“Napalm Girl” Exhibition Reflects on the Tragic Photo

"I have always wished for peace to exist forever on earth," said Nick Ut, acclaimed war photographer.


When photographer Nick Ut returned to Vietnam in the early days of April 2022, he was very emotional, recalling the moment when he took the photo “Napalm Girl” on August 6, 1972, in Trang Bang, West Ninh during the war between the US and Vietnam.

Specifically, at Lavelle Gallery, from April 3 to April 10, 22 black and white photos were displayed in a 35-square-meter room. They were taken when Nick Ut was a war photographer in Phu Yen, Quang Tri, and Tay Ninh. In the center of the gallery is the picture “Napalm Girl” – a picture that shook the world half a century ago, depicting the brutality of war.

Nick Ut took the picture “Napalm Girl” in Trang Bang, Tay Ninh in 1972, capturing the moment when Phan Thi Kim Phuc, a nine-year-old girl, panicked and ran away naked when she was burned by a Napalm bomb. He took the girl to the hospital in time and saved her life.

This photographic work has been posted around the world and contributed to the end of the Vietnam War. In 1973, he received the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. In a poll conducted by History TV channel to choose the world-changing photos in the UK in 2019, Napalm Baby led with 37%.

To date, it has been 50 years since the photo “Napalm Girl” was taken. This is a work that has touched the hearts of many people in Vietnam and around the world.

The “Napalm Girl” photo. Photo: Qdnd.com

Nick Ut’s birth name is Huynh Cong Ut, born in 1951 in Long An. He has an older brother, Huynh Thanh My, who was also a war correspondent. When he saw the work his brother did, he followed and learned. After his brother died, Nick Ut was accepted to work for the globally recognized Associated Press (AP).

At the age of 20, as a war correspondent for AP, in one of his assignments, he met a girl with a burning body, she was running and crying. He carried her to the hospital for emergency treatment. When they arrived, the doctors refused to treat them because they did not have enough drugs and equipment.

Believing that if Kim Phuc died, the photo he just took would have no meaning, Nick Ut used his press card to apply pressure. At this time, the hospital mobilized doctors and nurses to give first aid, then took Kim Phuc to a children’s hospital in Saigon for treatment.

After the war ended, Nick Ut moved to the US to settle down and work as a reporter for AP in Los Angeles, monitoring news from earthquakes and wildfires to sports and movie stars. In January 2021, the photographer was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Donald Trump.

He retired in 2017. To date, at the age of 71, he said he is still healthy. Nick Ut often carries a camera with him to compose about life and nature. This May, he held an exhibition in Italy.

Photo: Qdnd.com

When answering the press, photographer Nick Ut spoke of his subject and war victim, Kim Phuc.

“Phan Thi Kim Phuc is now a UNESCO Peace Ambassador. This woman has had many volunteer activities, she has been helping poor and sick children around the world. Over the past 50 years, many times when I sit alone and look at the photo, tears come out. Having witnessed the fierce destruction and sequelae of war, I have always wished for peace to exist forever on earth,” said photographer Nick Ut.

The legendary photo “Napalm Girl” by author Nick Ut is a masterpiece. He was the first Vietnamese in the 20th century who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for photojournalism (USA) in 1973. The photo was ranked 41st in the 100 most influential photographs of the 20th century voted by Columbia University.

Da Quang