Kim Phuc

SOUTH VIETNAM. Trang Bang. June 8, 1972. Terror of War. South Vietnamese forces follow after frightened children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, centre, as they run down a road, after a South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped flaming napalm on its own troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. 

This photo, taken by Vietnamese-born war photographer Nick Ut, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 and the World Press Photo of the Year award in 1972.

Photograph: Nick Ut/AP 

This picture became one of the most haunting images of the Vietnam War. In an interview many years later, Kim Phúc recalled she was yelling, Nóng quá, nóng quá (“too hot, too hot”) in the picture. New York Times editors were at first hesitant to consider the photo for publication because of the nudity, but eventually approved it. A cropped version of the photo—with the press photographers to the right removed—was featured on the front page of the New York Times the next day.

After snapping the photograph, Ut took Kim Phúc and the other injured children to Barsky Hospital in Saigon, where it was determined that her burns were so severe that she probably would not survive (30% of her body). After a 14-month hospital stay and 17 surgical procedures, however, she was able to return home. Ut continued to visit Kim Phúc until he was evacuated during the fall of Saigon. (see this post on her later life)

Audio tapes of President Richard Nixon, in conversation with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman in 1972, reveal that Nixon mused “I’m wondering if that was fixed” after seeing the photograph. After the release of this tape, Út commented:

“Even though it has become one of the most memorable images of the twentieth century, President Nixon once doubted the authenticity of my photograph when he saw it in the papers on 12 June 1972…. The picture for me and unquestionably for many others could not have been more real. The photo was as authentic as the Vietnam War itself. The horror of the Vietnam War recorded by me did not have to be fixed. That terrified little girl is still alive today and has become an eloquent testimony to the authenticity of that photo. That moment thirty years ago will be one Kim Phúc and I will never forget. It has ultimately changed both our lives.”



The Iron Lung Comedy Hour Live #47/100
Cold Storage
Sexless // No Sex
I Hate You Motherfuckers - Live In Australia
Iron Lung Mixtape I
Iron Lung Mixtape II
Cold Storage II

Somebody sell/trade me cassette versions of White Glove Test & Life. Iron Lung. Death please!

Photo by Trang Bang

“My life helps heal the hearts of others. It was the fire of the bombs that burned my body; the skill of the doctors that mended my skin. But it took the power of God’s love to heal my heart.” - Kim Phuc

Healing and Life Lessons of Napalm Survivor Kim Phuc

SOUTH VIETNAM. Trang Bang. June 8, 1972. South Vietnamese forces follow after frightened children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, centre, as they run down a road, after a South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped flaming napalm on its own troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing.

This photo, taken by Vietnamese-born war photographer Nick Ut, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 and the World Press Photo of the Year award in 1972.

In the photograph that made Kim Phuc a living symbol of the Vietnam war, her burns aren’t visible – only her agony as she runs wailing toward the camera, her arms flung away from her body, naked because she has ripped off her burning clothes.

More than 40 years later she can hide the scars beneath long sleeves, but that betrays the pain she has endured since that errant napalm strike in 1972. While a photographer’s image froze that moment in time, life didn’t stand still for the little girl, and now Kim Phuc tells her story around the world to benefit other child victims of war.

Skin peels off Kim’s body.

Kim Phuc shows the burn scars on her back and arms after laser treatments and more than 40 years after napalm was dropped on her village. Photograph: Nick Ut/AP

At conferences, Phuc says her experience of war changed her life. “I owe my values and who I am today to that experience. Sometimes a terrible thing can happen, but if we are very lucky, we can learn from our experience, and it can even make us stronger.”

She grew up in a tiny village in South Vietnam, in a nice house with a big yard, playing with friends and riding her bicycle. “I felt safe, and loved. Before the war, I was never afraid.”

When a plane dropped four napalm bombs on the village, Phuc was badly burned. As she and her relatives fled, a group of journalists on the road outside the village captured the horror on film. They also tried to help: Ut himself drove Phuc to the nearest hospital.

Each time Phuc recounts her life at conferences, she describes it as a series of lessons learned.

The first lesson, she says, is to be strong in the face of pain.

“Napalm is the most terrible pain you can imagine. Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. Napalm generates temperatures of 800 to 1,200 degrees Celsius.”

Phuc had third-degree burns to half her body and was not expected to live. But she survived, enduring a 14-month hospital stay and 17 operations.

The second lesson, she says, is the importance of love. The compassion of doctors and nurses and the love of her family helped her recover. She also discovered that love can be tough. She was reluctant to do the daily exercises she needed to do because they were so painful, but her mother insisted. “I got better later on. I’m so grateful to my mother.”

While she spent years doing those painful exercises to preserve her range of motion, her left arm still doesn’t extend as far as her right arm, and her desire to learn how to play the piano has been thwarted by stiffness in her left hand. Tasks as simple as carrying her purse on her left side are too difficult.

“As a child, I loved to climb on the tree, like a monkey,” picking the best guavas, tossing them down to her friends, Phuc says.

“After I got burned, I never climbed on the tree anymore and I never played the game like before with my friends. It’s really difficult. I was really, really disabled.”

Phuc in hospital in 1972. She was nine when napalm was dropped on her village.

Phuc says that after the war, her family’s life was “very different and very difficult. “Our house was destroyed completely,” she said. “You have everything one day and suddenly you have nothing. I learned that you can lose everything, but if you have family love and God’s love, you have everything.”

Education has always been important to her. As a small child, she loved going to school. When she returned home after treatment, the first thing she wanted to do was go back to school. She dreamt of becoming a doctor, and studied hard despite the obstacles. But first because of the Vietnam War, and later because of the war with neighbouring Cambodia, life was dangerous and it was often difficult to attend school.

Another lesson Phuc learned, she says, was the importance of freedom. “I always had minders – people from the government whose job was to watch me every moment.”

When she was 19 years old, the Vietnamese government chose Phuc as their poster child, and would pick her up after school to give interviews to foreign journalists.

She begged to be allowed to go somewhere quiet for study, and was sent to Cuba, where she spent the next six years, although she eventually had to leave medical school because of her health. She began to dream of escaping. In 1992, Phuc married a North Vietnamese student at the University of Havana. The couple went to Moscow for their honeymoon, and on their return journey, when the plane stopped to refuel in Canada, they had just one hour to make their escape. The only belongings she had with her were a camera and a purse.

“Sometimes in our lives we need to take a risk,” she says.

Kim Phuc, today and on June 8, 1972.

The most difficult lesson of all was how to forgive. “It wasn’t easy. I didn’t just say one day ‘I forgive’. It took many doctors and operations to repair my body, but… it took the power of God’s love to heal my heart.”

In 1996, during a Veterans Day ceremony in Washington, D.C., Phuc met a former pilot who helped coordinate the airstrike on her village. The two embraced and she told him she forgave him. They have stayed in touch.

“Having known war, I know the value of peace. Having lived under government control, I know the value of freedom. Having lived with pain, I know the healing power of love. Having lived with poverty, losing everything and having nothing, I know how to value what I have. And the most important thing of all, having lived in hatred, terror, and corruption, I know the power of faith and forgiveness.”

She is grateful to have learned so many lessons. In 1997, Phuc established the Kim Foundation, a charitable organization to help child victims of war.

“A photographer happened to be on that road that day. But I can never forget the thousands of innocent children who didn’t have their picture taken and didn’t get help. These are the children I want to help.”

The last lesson has to do with the famous picture. “For many years, the picture controlled me. Then I realised that, if I could not escape the picture, I could work with it for peace. Now I travel, following my picture around the world as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO. My picture is a symbol of war, but my life is a symbol of love, hope, and forgiveness.”

Kim Phuc with her eldest son, Thomas, in 1995.

Now, more than 40 years after Kim Phuc was photographed, treatment in the US will also help ease the physical pain she still endures. Triggered by scarred nerve endings that misfire at random, her pain is especially acute when the seasons change in Canada.

Phuc says her Christian faith brought her physical and emotional peace “in the midst of hatred, bitterness, pain, loss, hopelessness,” when the pain seemed insurmountable.

“No operation, no medication, no doctor can help to heal my heart. The only one is a miracle, [that] God loves me,” she says. “I just wish one day I am free from pain.”

Now, she has a new chance to heal – a prospect she once thought possible only in a life after death.

“So many years I thought that I have no more scars, no more pain when I’m in heaven. But now – heaven on earth for me!” Phuc said upon her arrival in Miami to see a dermatologist who specialises in laser treatments for burn patients.

In September 2015, Phuc, 52, began a series of laser treatments that her doctor says will smooth and soften the pale, thick scar tissue that ripples from her left hand up her arm, up her neck to her hairline and down almost all of her back. Even more important to Phuc, the treatments also will relieve the deep aches and pains that plague her to this day.

Compared to the other surgeries and skin grafts when she was younger, the lasers were easier to take.

“This was so light, just so easy,” she said after her first session. “Maybe it takes a year. But I am really excited – and thankful.”

[Mix of several press articles]

Kim Phuc pictured in 2012 with Nick Ut, the photographer who made her childhood image famous. Photograph: Jae C. Hong/AP 

O fotógrafo vietnamita Nick Ut ganhou o prêmio Pulitzer graças à foto ao lado, que mostra o desespero de uma menina de 9 anos fugindo de um ataque de napalm em um vilarejo no Vietnã. O registro foi feito em 8 de junho de 1972 e mostra, além da garotinha Kim Phuc, soldados vietnamitas correndo logo atrás. Próximo à menina, de camisa branca, está o irmão mais velho dela, também correndo desesperado.

Phan Thi Kim Phuc - The girl from the famous photograph by Nick Ut (Huỳnh Công Út) taken during the Vietman war.

Her village had been occupied by North Vietnamese forces and as she was fleeing from it her group was mistaken for a group of soldiers and attacked by South Vietnamese forces.

The napalm from the bomb burned 30% of her body, mainly her back, neck and left arm. She tore of her burnig clothes and was photographed as she was running down the street naked.

She was taken to the hospital by the photographer himself and was able to return home only after 2 years of therapy and surgery.

She was then used for propaganda purposes by the communist government, but was eventually able to continue her studies in medicine in Cuba where she met her future husband.

While returning from their honeymoon in Russia they got of the plane during a refueling stop in Canada and asked for political asylum.

In 1997 she passed the Canadian Citizenship Test and is since a Canadian citizen. She and her husband have two sons - Thomas, born in 1994 and Stephen, born in 1997. She is also an UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, was awarded several honorary degrees and founded the Kim Phuc Foundation, helping child victims of war.

On the first picture, a nine-years-old Kim Phúc is running naked on the road, burnt by a South Vietnamese napalm attack. 

First known for being “the girl in the picture”, she is now president of her own association, fighting for child victims of war to be helped medically and psychologically, praising love and compassion.

She is my favourite woman figure in history.


Kim Phuc - Copsucker

Kim Phuc is a noisy post-punk band from Pittsburgh. Their first LP, Copsucker (what a great name), has been released on Iron Lung Records for 10$. If you don’t like vinyle & nice objets you can also buy the digital release. It took me a few listening session before really getting into it but it was very much worth it. They also have their own blog.

 (here’s the bandcamp streaming widget that you won’t see on the Dashboard unless you click on that grey box)

“Copsucker is the pinnacle sound of a band that has been crafting, honing and re-imagining the way punk music should be played, with so much raw atmosphere and energy that it will probably rip you apart. Be careful. For those unfamiliar with the KP sound, it lands somewhere near the idea of Warsaw era Joy Division on steroids with a distinct Pittsburgh edge.”
from the official Bandcamp 

External image

“ Forgiveness made me feel free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days, but my heart is cleansed. Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness, and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope, and forgiveness. If that little gir in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?

- Kim Phuc, the girl in the vietnam war photography

Twenty-three years on. When she was nine, Kim Phuc’s village in Vietnam was hit by US napalm. The photograph Nick Ut took of her as she ran down the road is widely believed to have hastened the end of the war. Kim Phuc, who now lives in Toronto, is pictured here with her baby son.


I leave you tonight with some history. A famous Time photo from the Vietnam war of children running from a napalm attack. The nude girl is the most famous, she was simply known as Napalm Girl. The second photo is of the Vietnamese film crew interviewing her as a person seams to be attending to her burns. The white areas on her back a peeled off skin. And lastly  Kim Phuc now, you can see the results of the napalm burns. She does an occasional tour to speak of her experiences.


Kim Phuc - Animal Mother/Local Round-Up

The war can not kill my love. The war cannot kill my hope. And the war can not kill my future.

-Kim Phuc

Kim Phuc is “the girl in that picture”. You’ve probably seen it. She was 9 years old then, running naked, her clothes burnt off when her village suffered a napalm bombing during the Vietnam War on June 5, 1972. Today she’s 49 years old, a radiant mother of 2 sons living in Canada, and still in physical pain.

Despite these odds, this UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador has met with those who ordered the napalm attack, to forgive them. She would like to share with you the personal photo that we’ve put as the main image of this podcast. She hopes it will give you the strength to forgive, even when it seems impossible, because ultimately happiness is an ethic of being at your personal best, without any expectations of return.

Made with SoundCloud