Kim Phuc
Kim Phuc

It is known that on June 8, 1972, a military plane from southern Vietnam, in coordination with the aggressor government, bombarded horribly with Napalm, a gelatinous gasoline with slow and lasting combustion to the remote North Vietnamese village of Trang Bang. Phan Thị Kim Phúc is a Vietnamese-Canadian activist known worldwide for being the napalm girl who appears in a famous photograph of the Vietnam War. The photograph taken by Nick Ut went around the world and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

In the region lived the girl Kim Phuc, only nine years old. At the time the bombing happened, the girl of just nine years old was badly burned, she started to run, desperate and terrified by what she saw, without heading towards a nearby road next to several of her brothers and cousins. In a few minutes the fire completely consumed all his clothes. It was there when Nick Ut correspondent of the American magazine Associated press (AP), took this sad picture, which reflects the despair and terror that those little ones were living at that moment, and where the little Kim appears completely naked and with burns on her body because of Napalm.
The author of the photograph quickly ran to send this image to the central address of AP. The influence of the photograph taken by Nick was such that some historians have considered that the image helped to stop the war in Vietnam; although, when it was taken, the withdrawal of American troops was already well advanced. The woman has been interviewed on numerous occasions, by journalists, presidents, prime ministers, people of royalty, actors, etc. She comments that “I just wanted to escape from that picture … I wanted to forget that it had happened, but they wanted everyone to remember it”.

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As I imagined the next day this image was the cover of many newspapers and magazines around the world. She has been awarded as Photo of the Year (1972) of the World Press Photo and received the important Pulitzer Prize (1973), the highest award given by American journalism. The original negative of the photo is perfectly preserved in the archives of the AP agency.
It is an instant photograph that changed the global perception of the war in Vietnam “Many times I wish that this image had not existed, but I considered it as a gift so that I could work for peace,” said the little Kim Phuc later, who remained hospitalized for 14 months to undergo 7 operations of skin grafts.
When she returned home, Kim hoped to be “a normal girl” and study medicine, but the Vietnamese government forced her to leave school because she considered it “a national symbol of war”. Years later, already recovered, she studied for a time at the University of Havana.
Currently she has her life in Canada with her family, Kim Phuc who is now an ambassador of goodwill in UNESCO and also coordinator of an international foundation that helps with medical and psychological treatments for children in war situations.

Kim Phuc, left, is visited by AP photographer Nick Ut in 1973

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