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'Napalm Girl' back in Vietnam, on display at HCMC exhibition

By Tan Cao   April 4, 2022 | 09:52 pm PT
Photographer Nick Ut is holding in HCMC an exhibition of 22 photos he took 50 years ago during his time as a war correspondent, including his iconic ‘Napalm Girl’.

At the event, Ut once again introduces to visitors his "Napalm Girl," officially known as "The Terror of War," that sent shock waves the world half a century ago by starkly depicting the brutality of war.

The exhibition is open to the public from April 3 to 10 at the Lavelle Gallery in Thu Duc City.

The exhibition in HCMC features 22 historical artworks of photojournalist Nick Ut. Photo courtesy of Lavelle

An exhibition has opened in HCMC featuring 22 historical images captured by photojournalist Nick Ut. Photo courtesy of Lavelle

The photo, shot in Vietnam on June 8, 1972, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography and the World Press Photo of the Year in 1973.

It shows nine-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc and other terrified children fleeing down a road near Trang Bang District in the southern province of Tay Ninh.

He took the shot after Phuc ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The other children were her two younger brothers and two cousins.

After taking the shot, Ut, who was 21 at the time, took the children to Barsky Hospital in Saigon.

The photo was published around the world, and hastened the end of the brutal invasion of Vietnam. It was voted the most powerful news image of the last 50 years.

The Pulitzer-winning Napalm Girl, 1972. From left, the children are Phan Thanh Tam, who lost an eye, younger brother of Kim Phuc, Phan Thanh Phuoc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Phuc’s cousins Ho Van Bon and Ho Thi Tinh. Photo courtesy of AP/ Nick Ut

The Pulitzer-winning "Napalm Girl", 1972. From left, the children are Phan Thanh Tam, who lost an eye, younger brother of Kim Phuc, Phan Thanh Phuoc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Phuc’s cousins Ho Van Bon and Ho Thi Tinh. Photo courtesy of AP/ Nick Ut

After 50 years Ut reveals he is still haunted by the moment he took the photo.

He said when he carried Phuc to the hospital for emergency treatment, doctors refused to treat her because they could not afford the medicines.

Thinking if Phuc dies, the photo would have no meaning, Ut used his media card to pressure the hospital staff to treat her.

Doctors and nurses gave the child first aid and took her to a children's hospital in Saigon.

During his time as a war correspondent, Ut constantly encountered bombs and shells and bullets flying past his head and even singeing his hair. He was wounded thrice in the abdomen and thigh.

Like many people returning from the battlefield, he suffered deep psychological wounds and traumas.

"I still have nightmares sometimes when I sleep.

"Doctors say my condition is better than that of many other people in the same situation. To this day I restrict myself from viewing historical films and photos".

Ut has returned to Vietnam on numerous occasions since the Vietnam War ended in 1975.

He recently came back at the end of March to participate in some charity trips with friends.

He is relieved that after decades his photo’s message is still intact and helps people understand history.

Former photojournalist Nick Ut delivers a speech at the launching of the exhibition in HCMC on April 3, 2022. Photo courtesy of Lavelle

Former photojournalist Nick Ut delivers a speech at the opening of his exhibition in HCMC on April 3, 2022. Photo courtesy of Lavelle

Ut, real name Huynh Cong Ut, was born in 1951 in the southern Long An Province. He had an older brother, Huynh Thanh My, who was also a war correspondent and was killed while on assignment with the AP in the Mekong Delta.

After his brother died, Nick joined AP.

After the war ended he moved to the U.S. to work as a reporter for the AP in Los Angeles.

In January 2021 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by then President Donald Trump.

He retired in 2017, and now, at 71, he says his health is still good. He still carries a camera with him wherever he goes.

He will next hold an exhibition in Italy in May.

 
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