Debra was born in Vermont of Korean parents, and started playing the piano by ear at age three. She began formal lessons at six and made her orchestral debut at twelve. When she was sixteen, she performed and recorded the Ravel G Major Concerto with the World Youth Symphony. That year, she received a scholarship to study at the Peabody Conservatory, but chose instead to pursue a broader education and enrolled in a combined Bachelor of Science/Medical Degree program at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. While studying medicine, she continued to perform in national chamber music concerts presented by the Si-Yo Young Artists Series.
After earning her medical degree, she practiced as an emergency room physician before earning a second doctorate in music, from the Ohio State University, where she studied with, and served as teaching assistant to, the legendary American virtuoso Earl Wild.
Since then, Debra has performed with orchestras throughout the U.S., and in solo recital at Wigmore Hall in London, The Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago, the Xavier University Piano Series in Cincinnati, American University in Washington, D.C., the Colorado Music Fest, the historic Barocksaal in Rostock, Germany, and Haverford College’s Guest Artists Series as well as its Music and Conversation series. She was the founder of the Grand Piano Concert Series in Columbus, Ohio, and has appeared in collaboration with many artists, including, at the Curtis Institute, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Perelman Theater of the Kimmel Center, with Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim.
A devoted music educator, Debra has taught at The Ohio State University and currently teaches privately and at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges in Pennsylvania. Besides performing, she transcribes orchestral and non-Western music for the piano, enjoys writing prose, hiking, cooking, and entertaining friends. She lives in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, with her husband Tom, their two daughters, and an incorrigible fifteen-pound terrier.