Yunghi 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., before moving to The Boston Globe where she was a staff photographer for seven years. Kim was a member of Contact Press Images in 1995 to 2008. Currently a special contributor to Contact Press Images.
Kim has covered conflicts and in-depth, issue-driven stories all over the world. Intimate storytelling and giving a voice to her subjects through the camera remain important to her.
A turning point in Kim's career came in 1992 covering the famine in Somalia for The Boston Globe. She and a reporter were pinned down by heavy fighting and taken hostage by warlord Siad Hersey Morgan. Intervention by the United Nations and CARE resulted in their rescue after 13 hours in captivity. Kim returned to Somalia a few days later to complete her assignment, and again months later to cover the entry of US troops into the region. Her coverage of the Somali famine was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize that year.
Yunghi is most proud of her documentation of the lives of former South Korean Comfort Women. These women, now 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 all over the world and helped introduce the Comfort Women to the West. After publication, the Japanese government eventually issued a verbal apology to South Korea which included a promise to account for this atrocity for historic purposes 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 including awards from the World Press Photo Foundation (Holland), she has received over 35 POY Awards, including coveted Magazine Photographer of the Year (University of Missouri/ National Press Photographers Association). Kim was the first woman in 55 years and is one of two women to receive it.
Kim has also received the Olivier Rebbot Award and the John Faber Award from the Overseas Press Club of America (OPC), Visa D'or Award at Visa Pour L' image Festival (Perpignan, France), and has received 26 awards from The White House News Photographers' Association 1996-2004, Communication Arts and Society for News Design. Kim received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston University and has served as a speaker at the Nieman Narrative Journalism Conference at Harvard University. Furthermore, she has been a tutor and speaker at World Press workshops, the Eddie Adams Workshops and the Missouri Photo Workshop.