Yunghi Kim is a photojournalist who has covered conflicts and in-depth, issue-driven stories all over the world for more than three decades. Intimate storytelling and giving a voice to her subjects through the camera remain important to her.
Kim came to the United States from her native South Korea at age 10. She graduated from Boston University in 1984 and began her career as a photographer at The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass. She was the first female photographer hired in the photography department. She then went on to a position staff photographer at The Boston Globe for seven years. Kim was a member of Contact Press Images in 1995 to 2008 and is presently a Special Contributor.
A turning point in Kim’s career came in 1992 when she was covering the famine in Somalia for The Globe. She and a reporter were pinned down by heavy fighting and then taken hostage by warlord Siad Hersey Morgan. Intervention by the United Nations and the aid group, CARE, resulted in their rescue after 13 hours in captivity. Kim returned to Somalia a few days later to complete her assignment. She returned months later to cover the entry of US troops into the region. Her coverage of the Somali famine was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize that year.
Kim remains proudest of her documentation of the lives of former South Korean Comfort Women. These women, affectionately called grandmothers, were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during its occupation of Korea during World War II. In 1996 her photo essay was published worldwide and helped introduce the Comfort Women to the West. After publication, the Japanese government eventually issued a verbal apology to South Korea that included a promise to account for this atrocity in Japanese historical texts. Her work was the first intimate, behind-the-scenes profile of the grandmothers.
Kim has received some of the profession’s highest accolades, it include World Press Photo Awards, POYi awards including Magazine Photographer of the Year by POYi (one of two woman ever to receive it ), The Olivier Rebbot and The John Faber Awards from the Overseas Press Club, Visa D’Or for News from the Visa Pour L’image in France, The White House Press Photographers, Boston Press Photographers Association, Communication in Arts and Society for News Design, recipient of Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston University.
Kim has also served as a speaker at the Nieman Narrative Journalism Conference at Harvard University. Past appointed member of NPPA Board of Directors (National Press Photographers Association), 2012 recipient of the United Nations’ Leadership Award in the field of photography by The International Photographic Council. She has also served on the faculty of World Press Photo, Eddie Adams and Missouri Photo Workshop.
In 2015, Kim paid it forward with $10,000 grant to photojournalists. Ten selected photojournalists received $1000 each from money Kim recouped from unauthorized use of her work to bring awareness of copyright education. For this she was 2016 recipient of NPPA’s The Clifton Edom Award that recognized an “individual who inspire and motivate members of the photojournalism community to reach new heights.”