Byun Shi Ji was born in Sogwipo, the southern harbor of Cheju Island, and moved to Japan, following his father, in 1931. He spent his young days in Osaka and made a debut as a painter. He majored in oil painting at the Osaka Art School. The news of Independence from Japanese colonial rule found him still in Japan in 1945. He continued to stay in Japan after the change.
His career as a painter began in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. He got awards from the Kofukai, when the club invited the young artists to join in a prize contest for best works in 1947. In the same year, he was more recognized by getting an award from the Japanese National Arts Exhibition, sponsored by the Ministry of Education, which was an authorized annual exhibition in Japan. The second participation in the Kofukai Exhibition allowed him to be awarded to golden prize and to be spotlighted in the public. His connection with the Kofukai still continues, by his taking part in their club.
The awards made his career and position firm in the Japanese art world. In 1957, he returned to Korea, from his experience in Japan, at the age of thirty one. Until then, he could not have any acquaintance with artists in Korea, and was not informed about the Korean art world.
His firm will made compete and stand in the Korean art world, only with his artistic technique, pocketing his feelings alone. He showed the inside of his art in Japan, through the first exhibition, which was held in the year after his return at the Whashin Department Store Gallery. People who were impressed by the level of technique there expected his potential for outstanding and affluent creativity. He held to his principle to be devoted to his canvas by traditional painting awareness, rather than to try to join new artistic trends from the West.
He, however, had tried to paint an abstract or semi-abstract canvas, which implied modern plastic consciousness out of a new observative attitude. This was around the time of his return to Korea. Such attempts were shown in his first exhibition in Korea and made a good contrast with his original naturalism. That was the first and only trial. Since then, he as made a clear adherence to the natural spirit.