Dr. Tae Yun Kim
Dr. Tae Yun Kim is the CEO of several very successful companies headquartered here in Fremont. She is also one of the highest ranking Martial Artists in the world. She is revered like royalty in her native Korea and greeted like a rock star wherever in the world she travels to. She is often a keynote speaker at large special events before thousands and, over the years, she would often speak with Presidents and Heads of State, Governors, Mayors, Business Executives, Celebrities and students everywhere.
Dr. Kim is 67 years old and, yet, she has the energy of a 20 year old. She is 4’11”, just 110 pounds, tiny in stature, perhaps, and yet more powerful than people half her age and twice her size. It is a far cry from where she comes from and what she shares with others. This is the story, the living legend, of Dr. Tae Yun Kim.
It was the Lunar New Year in 1946 when Dr. Kim was born. The problem was: she was born in Korea and born a girl. It was not a good start, since it was considered a travesty if a family’s first born was not a boy. Dr. Kim grew up hearing that she was no good, a disgrace, a disaster, a curse and ugly. People would say she was bad luck and to stay away from her. They would spit and throw rocks at her. Her parents were cruel to her. Her father drank and would beat her. He would also beat her mother. She had no friends. She was starving for friends … and for food. As her family was poor, she was hungry and also scared. She literally ate what food she could find, often what was left for the pigs.
When Dr. Kim was five, the Korean War was raging on. Her family abandoned her because she was an extra mouth to feed. They ran away from their home, leaving her inside. Bombs were exploding everywhere and Dr. Kim was very scared. A sweet, kind voice spoke to her, a young girl, slightly older than she was. Her one and only friend in the world told her: “You can’t stay here. It’s too dangerous. We need to run. Come, race with me!” And so she did.
They ran and then suddenly there was a “kaboom”. When Dr. Kim came to, she got up and looked for her friend. She found her lying motionless, covered in blood. Crying heavily, she shook her repeatedly to please wake up, but she never did. She lost her one friend who, to this day, she feels was her angel.
Everyone said that she was bad luck and, yet, they were the ones lying bloodied all over the ground, while she was not. They said she was ugly, yet, she saw her reflection in the water and thought she was rather cute. Then and there, Dr. Kim had an epiphany. She didn’t want to run anymore. “All I knew”, she said, “was that we are special – each of us unique. Like our thumb print, we are an original, not a copy, but a one-of-a-kind identity. I am not another, I am not someone else. I am me.” That was such a life lesson for herself and for everyone, for then and for always: He Can Do! She Can Do! Why Not Me!
After the War ended, she was reunited with her family. In order to try to change her, her Grandfather enlisted the help of a Buddhist Monk. But seeing something special in her, instead of trying to change her, the Monk became her mentor. Though he was Buddhist, he gave her a Bible because wanted to share wisdom with her that inspired her to Christian spirituality which ultimately became a very important part of Dr. Kim’s life.
When she was seven, Dr. Kim heard sounds coming from outside the house. Curious, she made a small hole in the rice paper window and peeked out. It was her eight uncles training in the morning mist. She saw something; she did not know what it was, but it was something she liked and wanted to pursue. It was TaeKwonDo, something that for centuries was forbidden for women in Korea. Thanks to her teacher, Dr. Kim was determined and began the pursuit of Martial Arts. Indeed, she became very good at it – ultimately coaching Olympic athletes and corporate executives in personal training sessions.
One day her father was drunk and was beating up young Dr. Kim. Her younger brother got in between to stop it. The father then hit the young man and, as an automatic reaction, he hit his father back. This was a no-no, a shameful act to strike a parent.
He wrote his sister a letter. “Dear Sister”, he wrote. “You know, everyone loves the rose, but you are like the wild daisy. They sway in the field and God takes care of them. I am not as strong as you,” It sounded more like a … she quickly jumped up and went looking for him. She went outside to where there was a beautiful field of daisies … and she found him. After this incident, Dr. Kim and her whole family moved to Vermont to start fresh.
In Vermont, Dr. Kim was now in her early twenties. She got a job in housekeeping working for Howard Johnson and also pumping gas. She said the greatest lessons came to her when she was cleaning toilets. She was happy. She was singing. She worked and they would pay her.
She knew her dream was to become a great teacher. She began teaching martial arts. She attracted students from the local schools and university. She loved it.
She was young and pretty and spoke no English. Men there tried to force her into situations, to which she said she was glad she knew martial arts. She felt in Vermont, it was a quiet place, she had little or no money, and she could not see herself getting ahead. She was frustrated and went to the wilderness, to nature, didn’t eat for two weeks, wanting to ask for and find inner-most, true-self answers. And the answer she was looking for came.
She didn’t know what “computers” were … What was this about computers and technology? One day she read the answer, which was literally her dining room table. It was the March 31, 1983 Wall Street Journal that was her table cloth laid out on the floor. An article headline caught her eye about a company earning $25 million in computer sales. Dr. Kim said aloud: “Someday we’re going to have a company that’s bigger than that!” … and she has kept that paper to this very day.
All she knew was that computers and technology were the future. “Future memory”, she called it. In school we learn about history, things that already were. What’s important, too, she realized, is we also study that what will be. She knew deep inside it would be important to ride this wave (called computers and technology) that was about to be.
All she knew about computers was a TV commercial she saw for IBM with Charlie Chaplin and a red rose. Convinced, where do we go for that, she asked? Silicon Valley she was told. What is Silicon Valley … Where is Silicon Valley? California? OK. I’m going. There were three of her pupils, students at the time of Philosophy and English at the University … they listened, graduated and decided to come along with her. Thirty years later, all three are still the top executives of the corporation Dr. Kim founded when they arrived.
Dr. Kim is a visionary, not a scientist or an engineer. Yet, she came up with the idea of Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions – an international high tech company that manufactures the most complete line of particle counting and contamination monitoring solutions available, including airborne and liquid particle counters, microbial samplers and facility monitoring systems. Their mission is to use science and technology to better mankind. They serve entire industries such as: Semiconductor, Aerospace, Defense/Homeland Security, Flat Panel TVs, Data Storage, Pharmaceutical, Medical Devices, Hospitals, Automotive, Food & Beverage, Air and Water Quality. It all began, it all came to her, she would say, without hesitation, when cleaning the toilets.
Dr. Kim never complained about her lot in life. Everyone has challenges. It’s all about attitude. It takes courage and it’s all about how we respond. Dr. Kim, when asked, if she is an optimist: “Oh, yes!” Do you believe people can transform: “Oh, yes!” She has personally helped people transform from being lost, from being a gang member, from being in jail – without much hope – to finding one’s higher-self, sense of purpose and feeling of peace. A Korean TV Network just made a full length documentary film on Dr. Kim, following her around for a full week. It became the most watched TVDocumentary ever in Korean history.
Dr. Kim also opened her Jung SuWon Martial Art Academy - Jung SuWon means: “The way of uniting body, mind and spirit in total harmony” – and it is recognized worldwide as one of best. Physical training is overcoming limitations … such as reducing fear and weakness and building true confidence and self-esteem.
A few of Dr. Kim’s companies include-Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions, Jung SuWon Martial Art Academy, TYK Fashions, Tae Yun Kim International University, and TYK Productions.
Dr. Kim is all about teaching, inspiring, motivating and making a difference. She has inspired many to be the best they can be. She knows all about overcoming obstacles and achieving one’s dreams. She cries, she says, when in the shower, for the many people she feels, and wishes, could realize such possibility. Dr. Kim realizes and is grateful for how fortunate she was and is. Her heart is open to share this with others, as she does for many, locally and globally.
She realizes that many people are addicted – addicted to games, instant gratification, temptations. She realizes how difficult it is in today’s world – especially, for young people – and that many are looking for a way, whether aware or not, for a better lot in life.
Dr. Kim knows first-hand it is up to us, each and every one of us. Media influences us a lot and there are no instant results. You have to take charge of your own life. You have to be the one who makes things happen.
It was way back in 1953, Dr. Kim was but eight years old … “People said you can’t do this or you can’t do that. The more I heard: No!-No!-No! … I said to myself: Yes!-Yes!-Yes!-Yes! I can do it!”
He Can Do! She Can Do! Why Not Me! “I fought,” she said. “It took courage. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says.” And understanding the importance of Ki - Life Force – and to breathe in our lives. “The Breath of Life is vital. If we don’t breathe, we die.”
Her motto of He Can Do, She Can Do, Why Not Me began when she was cleaning toilets for Howard Johnson. It was the beginning of her tapping into the strength within – this Life Force - and it has led to a sense of joy, peace and purpose ever since.
Dr. Kim has won many distinguished awards, including the Susan B. Anthony award, the Silicon Valley Woman of Achievement Award (having been the only one to have won this coveted award twice – for Business and Athletics) - and became a Modern Knight, the first woman knighted as a Chevalier in 1700 years. In addition, her company, Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions, has been selected a number of times as the #1 Best Company To Work For.
It is a story that has beautifully evolved and continues to. Dr. Kim has come such a long way from being an abandoned orphan in war-torn Korea to becoming the successful CEO, Grandmaster and Inspiration that she has become. As from a cocoon to a caterpillar to a butterfly, results are not instant, she would say. It didn’t just happen. It takes courage and it takes action. And she’s excited, she added, for it’s only the beginning. “It’s kindergarten”, she said, “with a lot more GOOD yet to come!” For Dr. Kim, it’s about leadership, making a difference in a big way and serving others.
Learn more about Dr. Kim online at