Life Story

About Dr. Tae Yun Kim

The story of Dr. Tae Yun Kim is a timeless, epic journey. It has been a monumental struggle with the hearts and minds of a world that tried to tie her down at every turn of her life. Through it all, Dr. Tae Yun Kim has demonstrated the power of her motto “He Can Do, She Can Do, Why Not Me”.

Dr. Tae Yun Kim offers her life story as a message of hope to all who want more from their lives. For those who find themselves wrapped in their own struggles, bound by weakness, taken over by the negative influences, or just simply those who feel there must be more to their lives, the life story of Dr. Tae Yun Kim is a point of inspiration and a road map for others to use so they can find completeness and fulfillment in their own lives.

From the moment of Tae Yun Kim’s birth in 1946, her family and all the people of the small South Korean village in which she was born called her a curse. She was born on the Lunar New Year. The family of Tae Yun Kim was certain that on this special day, they would be blessed and their first born child would surely be a healthy baby boy to carry on the Kim family name. When her Grandfather found out that she was not a boy, he was horrified. He ran to the temple and prayed, asking why his family had been cursed.

It was very hard for young Tae Yun Kim. Her mother, also ostracized for not producing a son for the family, blamed young Tae Yun Kim for her hardships. She often left Tae Yun Kim alone, without food for days, hoping that she would die. Surviving this abuse at home, Tae Yun Kim grew into a young girl only to find that even the other village children did not like her. They threw snakes at her and also called her bad luck. No one wanted anything to do with her.

During the Korean War, young girls were abandoned by their families who fled the towns with their sons. Tae Yun Kim was one such girl. It was during this time, at the age of 5, she was left alone, with bombs falling around her.  She met another young girl, a few years older than her. She came up to young Tae Yun and told her that she had to run, that she had to get out of there and then said “let’s race!” These words sounded so sweet to Tae Yun’s ears. This was the first time someone had actually been nice to her. Someone cared about her and wanted to help her. Tae Yun was so excited! She raced after her new friend. She ran hard to keep up with the older girl, but as she was running a bomb exploded right in front of them.

As Tae Yun Kim came to her senses, she immediately began to look for her friend. She was desperate to find her. She looked and looked, and then she saw her, lying on the ground, motionless. Her friend’s arm was blown off and all around her she could see the bodies of people from her village. She had been told her whole life she was a curse, bad luck, but now here she was, alive. Filled with sadness from losing her first and only friend, from this point forward, Tae Yun Kim decided that she would stand her ground and fight for her life; she was not going to run anymore.

Having survived the war, Tae Yun Kim went to live with her Grandparents. It was here she first saw her uncles practicing Tae Kwon Do in the morning mist. Intrigued and fascinated by what she saw, she knew at that moment what she wanted to do with her life.

Women at this time were forbidden to practice Tae Kwon Do. It was a ridiculous notion, but Tae Yun Kim persisted. Her uncles told her that because she was a girl, she could not train. They told her to learn to cook and sew, grow up and if she was lucky, she could get married, produce twelve sons and then her life would be all set. But Tae Yun’s mind was set. She would learn the martial arts. She did not want to be like her mother or her grandmother. She would be an original. Finally, certain that after a few bruises, she would give up, one of her uncles agreed to teach her. To his surprise, Tae Yun Kim did not give up. Instead, she trained hard and progressed quickly.

At this point, her grandparents had reached their end. Enough was enough. In their eyes, it was bad enough that this girl had been such a curse to their family, but now she was practicing Tae Kwon Do. It was outrageous to them. They decided to have her married off, but Tae Yun Kim would not let that happen.

During an interview with the matchmaker, Tae Yun Kim was asked to serve tea. This would show to the matchmaker that she can be graceful and polite so that she could serve her future husband well. As the tea was being served, Tae Yun dumped the tea into the lap of the matchmaker. The matchmaker stormed out of the house proclaiming that this girl was bad luck and would never get married.

At this point, her Grandfather had tried everything to make her change. So, finally, he called in a well known Buddhist Master to convince this young girl to behave as they thought she should. This special meeting would change Tae Yun Kim’s life forever.

Tae Yun Kim was outside when her Grandfather and this new person approached. She could see that the person with her Grandfather was a monk, but she did not know what was about to happen. The Master asked her to look at him, but that was unthinkable. As culture and tradition demanded, the little girl didn’t dare to look into the Master’s eyes. So he put his finger under her chin and gently lifted her face until her eyes met his. “What do you want to do when you grow up, little girl?” He asked. “I want to be a teacher and help people,” she replied. He asked her why she would want to do that. “Don’t you want to grow up, get married, and raise a family?” Tae Yun Kim replied, “No Sir, I don’t want to be my mother or my grandmother. I want to be me. I want to be an original.”

The Master gazed into her eyes, into her heart and then he said, “Ok, I will teach you.” Tae Yun Kim’s life and mission started at this moment.

Training for Tae Yun Kim was everything. Everywhere else in her life, people pushed her aside, ostracized her, and treated her like an outcast. But when she was training with her Master, none of that mattered. She put everything into her training and dedicated her whole self to being the best she could be. She looked around and said to herself, “He Can Do, She Can Do, Why Not Me!”

Tae Yun Kim learned the ancient principles of Ki energy from her Master as they trained in the mountains of Korea. In the snow, the rain, the sun, throughout the day and the night, Tae Yun Kim dedicated every ounce of energy she had to learning and being the best student. Her Master recognized her dedication and passed on the secrets of internal energy, Ki energy that would form the foundation of what Tae Yun Kim shares with the world today.

In 1968, Tae Yun Kim and her family came to America, to Burlington Vermont, with just $300.00 to their name and not a word of English. Even so, Tae Yun Kim set out to make a place for herself in this new world. However, she was quickly struck with the harsh realities of stifling prejudice and an insurmountable language and cultural barrier.

Tae Yun Kim wanted to open her own school and teach others the amazing things she had dedicated her life to learning, but she was shut down at every turn. No one would rent her space to open her school. When she finally found a small space to open her school, it was quickly burnt to the ground by an arsonist.

Working three jobs to make ends meet, Tae Yun Kim pumped gas, cleaned bathrooms at a local hotel, and even sold cars on weekends. People still did not accept her. She had spent her whole life dedicated to learning and preparing to help people, but now here in America, the land of opportunity, she was still being shunned by everyone around her.

Tae Yun Kim hit rock bottom, then lost all hope and all will to live. Her excitement about coming to the USA was completely gone. No matter how hard she worked, how much enthusiasm she put into everything she did, she felt like she wasn’t getting anywhere. Tae Yun Kim was even wondering why her Master wanted her to come to this strange and hostile place. All she could feel was utter despair, loneliness, pain and suffering. The only thing that kept her from committing suicide was her strong belief in God, which kept her going, day-by-day.

However, one dark and hopeless day, she felt she couldn’t go on any longer, so she only took her bible and went up a mountain. No tent, not even a blanket, and nothing to eat or drink, she went up, and fasted and prayed for two weeks, begging God to let her die because she didn’t feel she could go on like this any longer. At the end of the second week, she received a vision of the passage Isaiah 60 and was tremendously comforted by that. At the same time, her vision included a message from God to start a computer company.

Since Tae Yun Kim didn’t know anything about running a business, and didn’t even know what a computer was, she thought that perhaps after 2 weeks of meditation and exposure to the elements, she was simply hallucinating, and put aside this vision.

But a couple of months later, when she wasn’t fasting, Tae Yun Kim had the exact same vision, and this time, she knew she had to take action.

Tae Yun Kim, with a few of her students, founded Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions in 1982. The mission of Lighthouse would be to use science and technology for the betterment of mankind.

As with everything else, this too was a struggle. Funded from the money Tae Yun Kim got from selling her house, she quickly lost everything. But Tae Yun Kim again said He Can Do, She Can Do, Why Not Me! She did not give up. In a small apartment, she ate soup that she made from discarded beef bones from the local grocery store, and herbs and plants that she picked from the surrounding mountains.

Tae Yun Kim noticed some of the kids in her Martial Arts classes had these funny blisters on their hands. When she asked how they got the blisters, they told her about the video games that they spent hours playing. Recognizing the trend she was seeing, and the negative outcome from sitting in front of a TV playing violent or mindless games for hours, Tae Yun Kim set Lighthouse in motion to make Bible-based video games. The Story of Moses, Samson and Delilah, and more were the first games they made.

Lighthouse continued to develop custom software applications for businesses, but in Burlington, Vermont, the need and interest in computers was slight at best. So Tae Yun Kim moved her company to California, to the heart of the Silicon Valley.

This is where technology was happening and Lighthouse quickly gained a reputation as a leading custom engineering solutions provider, working with Lockheed, FMC, Intuit, McAfee, IBM, Texas Instruments, and more.

Then in 1989, Lighthouse did a project with the leading provider of components for hard disk drives in the world. It was a global system that monitored the cleanliness of the air and water in cleanrooms around the world. In a time before the internet was created, this was a very cutting edge development.

Lighthouse continued to develop and innovate real time monitoring for clean air and water, and today manufactures the world’s most innovative line of monitoring equipment. Winning several technology awards for the products it has developed, Lighthouse was also the winner of two back-to-back “Best Places to Work” awards.

Earning a highly honored business degree in one of Korea’s top schools, Dr. Tae Yun Kim is now known around the world as a Business Visionary. She was awarded the Grand prize from all the businesses throughout California in the California Chamber of Commerce’s Simply Success Story Challenge for the bold and innovative way she led Lighthouse through an economic downturn.

Dr. Tae Yun Kim continues to drive the Lighthouse Development Team to invent and create new products that lead the industry in monitoring our clean air and water. She is regarded as a Technology Giant even in the highly competitive world of the Silicon Valley.

Offering her life story to the world as a point of inspiration so that others can use her life experiences as a roadmap to their own unique and individual success stories, Tae Yun Kim has become a true Icon of Success.

As a Modern Day Warrior, Tae Yun Kim still teaches the ancient principles of Ki Energy at her martial art school, Jung SuWon Martial Art Academy and her own Tae Yun Kim Academy of Higher Learning. At Jung SuWon, students overcome their challenges and achieve their successes through Tae Yun Kim’s teaching and inspiration.

The country of Korea named Tae Yun Kim “The Hope of the Country, the Face of the Country and the Pride of the Country” for the outstanding story of challenge and ultimate success that she has achieved in her life. She embodies the spirit of a Great American Success story. Her motto, “He Can Do, She Can Do, Why Not Me!” motivates her to continue to drive herself and those around her to new levels. It inspires people around the world to really go beyond what they think is possible.

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Achievements

Achievements & Accomplishments

About Dr. Tae Yun Kim

Born Lunar New Year, Jan. 1, 1946 (Solar calendar: Feb. 2, 1946), Kimchon, Gyeongsangbukdo Province

  • Chairman & CEO, Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions
  • Chancellor & CEO, Tae Yun Kim International University
  • Founder, Martial Art of Jung SuWon
  • Founder of NorthStar Productions, LLC
  • International Author
  • CEO, TYK Fashion
  • Honorary Ph.D. in Business Administration, Sook Myung Women’s University, Seoul, Korea, 2003
  • Honorary Commander, U.S. Air Force
  • Chairman of the Board, Martial Arts Leadership Federation
  • Prior, Ambassador, Knight Chevalier, Grand Dame, and Grand Officer, Imperial Orders of Constantine the Great and of Saint Helen

AUTHOR & INTERNATIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE

BESTSELLER BOOKS

  • Seven Steps to Inner Power (translated into 15 different languages)
  • Seven Steps to Inner Power Workbook
  • Seven Steps to Inner Power Book audio/CD
  • The Silent Master: Using Your Inner Power
  • The First Element: Secrets to Maximizing Your Energy
  • They Call Me Success (Korean)
  • Golden Key of the CEO (Chinese version of They Call Me Success)

INTERNATIONAL NEWS & MEDIA

  • UNITED STATES: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN Headlines, KTSF, KCBS, WABC, New Dimensions Radio, and many more…
  • GERMANY: ProSiebenTV
  • EUROPE
  • KOREA: KBS (Human documentary), MBC (Can Do Show, 3 day special), MBC (Never Ending Story), KBS, SBS (Special Documentary), YTN, MBN, ArirangTV, KBS Radio1 (40 day life story documentary, Voice of Freedom message to North Korea)
  • JAPAN: TV Tokyo
  • Many more…

FEATURE MAGAZINE & NEWSPAPER ARTICLES

  • New York Times
  • Seattle Times
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Miami Herald
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • San Jose Mercury News
  • USA Today
  • Body Mind Spirit
  • Health World (Cover)
  • Fitness Magazine
  • Hankuk Hwabo – Pictorial Journal of Korea (Cover)
  • New World
  • American Fitness (Cover)
  • Korea Daily News
  • CEO Magazine
  • ELLE
  • San Francisco Examiner
  • Chicago Post
  • The Business Journal
  • The Argus
  • San Francisco Business Times
  • Myself Magazine (Cover)
  • Tae Kwon Do Times (5 covers)
  • Inside Karate Magazine
  • Star
  • Asian Week
  • Faces International
  • Weekly Morning Korean News
  • Wirtschaftswoche
  • Taipei Times
  • Many more…

ACHIEVEMENTS & RECOGNITION, USA

  • Susan B. Anthony Award, Vermont
  • Humanitarian Award, Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame, 2012
  • Honorary Commander, U.S. Air Force, 2012
  • Given title of “Her Excellency” as Prior for Northern California, Grand Officer and Ambassador to South Korea, Japan & China in the Imperial Orders of Constantine the Great and of St. Helen, 2011
  • Knighted as Chevalier & Grand Dame in Orders of Constantine the Great & of St. Helen, 2009
  • Inducted into the Official TaeKwonDo Hall of Fame; received Lifetime Achievement Award, 2009
  • Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions, ranked the #1 Best Place to Work in the Bay Area, San Francisco Business Times, East Bay Business Times & San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal, 2006
  • Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions, ranked the #1 Best Place to Work in the Bay Area, San Francisco Business Times, East Bay Business Times & San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal, 2005
  • Winner, Women of Distinction award, Technology, San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal, 2005
  • Grand Prize & Regional Winner of California Chamber of Commerce’s “Simply Essential Success Stories” contest for the most innovative business leader in California, 2004
  • California Legislature, Woman of the Year, 2002
  • YWCA’s Tribute to Women and Industry Award, 2002
  • Women of Achievement Award (The Women’s Fund), Sports, 1991 and Corporate, 2002
  • Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Supreme Master Byong Yu, 2011
  • Chairperson and Host for the historic visit of the North Korean National Taekwondo Demonstration Team, San Francisco, October 2007
  • Grand Marshal for the 14th Korean American Olympic Festival, San Francisco, 2007
  • Best of Show, CleanRooms Contamination Control Technology Conference, Boston, MA, 2006
  • Best of Show, CleanRooms Contamination Control Technology Conference & Exhibition, 2005
  • Life Story included in book, Unstoppable Women by Cynthia Kersey, 2005
  • Commendation by City of San Jose for Service to the Community, 2005
  • Best Solution to a Product (Lighthouse), Attendees’ Choice Award, SEMICON West 2004
  • Portrayed in “Culture Clash in AmeriCCa” by nationally acclaimed group, Culture Clash, 2003
  • Businessperson of the Year Award, Korean American Chamber of Commerce, Silicon Valley, 1998
  • Tae Yun Kim Day, Silicon Valley, February 2, 1998
  • Recipient of honorary keys to many US cities
  • Many More…

KEYNOTE & FEATURE LECTURES and MEDIA APPEARANCES, North America

  • Keynote Speaker, Korean Students’ Association of Canada, Career Conference: Colour Your Path, Ryerson, Univ., Toronto, Canada, February 2012
  • Keynote Speaker, Secrets of Business Success, Toronto, Canada, 2012
  • Feature Speaker, TaeKwonDo Times 30th Anniversary Event, Cedar Rapids, IA, May 2011
  • Feature Speaker, Master’s Way Demonstration, Los Angeles, CA, January 2011
  • Keynote Speaker & Demonstration, NowRoz Festival, Great America, Santa Clara, CA, April 2010
  • Feature Lecture, Future Memories Seminar, CA, January 2010
  • Keynote Speaker & Demonstration, U.S. Women’s Expo, CA, June 2009
  • Keynote Speaker, IndoAmerican Community Federation, Unity Dinner, March 2009
  • Keynote Speaker, Women’s Health Forum, National Hispanic University, 2005 & 2008
  • Keynote Speaker, 150th Celebration of the Pi-Ume-Sha Treaty Signing at the Warm Springs Native American Indian Reservation, Oregon, 2005
  • Keynote Speaker, African American Health Summit, 2005
  • Keynote Speech, United Nations World Environment Day, San Francisco, CA, 2005
  • Special Entertainment feature on TV Tokyo, Japan, October, 2004
  • Featured Speaker, Inspirational Role Model Day, Irvington High School, 2004
  • Keynote Speaker, IndoAmerican Community Federation, Unity Dinner 2004
  • Keynote Speaker, Third Annual Korean American Women Conference, New York, 2004
  • Keynote Speaker, Centennial Celebration of Korean Immigration National Gala, Washington, DC, 2003
  • Featured Speaker, 5th Annual Summit for Women, San Francisco, 2003
  • Keynote Speaker, National College of Physical Education & Sports, Taiwan, 2003
  • Motivational Speech, Wen Shan Women’s Center, Taiwan, 2003
  • Keynote Speaker, Chief Doctors and Administration, Mackay Hospital, Taiwan, 2003
  • Keynote Speech, Taiwan Covenant Church, Taiwan, 2003
  • Keynote Speaker, US TaeKwonDoWon National Tournament, San Francisco, 2003
  • Keynote Speaker & Presenter, African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame, 2003
  • Keynote Speaker, IndoAmerican Community Federation, Unity Dinner 2002
  • Keynote Speaker, NAACP Prayer Breakfast, Sacramento, CA, 2002
  • Featured Speaker, 4th Annual Summit for Women, San Francisco, 2001
  • Keynote Speaker, Martin Luther King Academic School Women’s Summit, 2001
  • Keynote Speaker, Kaiser Permanente Annual Giving Campaign, United Way, 2001
  • Featured guest on the Crook & Chase Talk Show on TNN, 1999
  • Featured guest on The Howie Mandel Show, 1998
  • Featured Speaker, Mastermind Convention, The Peoples Network, Dallas Convention Center, 1997
  • Keynote Speaker, Symposium for Health Workers, Stanford University, 1997
  • Keynote Speaker, Indian Professional Business Women Conference, 1997
  • Many more…

ACHIEVEMENTS & RECOGNITION, KOREA

  • Advisor to Gyeongsangbuk-Do Province in South Korea for International Cooperation, 2000 – 2013
  • Selected as “One of the Most Successful Koreans who Bring Hope to Korea” by Kyunghyang Daily News, 2001
  • Hope of the Country of Korea, President Kim Dae Jung
  • Life story portrayed in 40-day live broadcast on KBS Radio International, 2002
  • Hwang Hee Culture & Art Prize (similar to the Nobel Peace Prize), Seoul, Korea, 2002
  • Many more…

KEYNOTE & FEATURE LECTURES and MEDIA APPEARANCES, KOREA

  • Special Lecture, Korea Military Academy, 2011
  • SBS TV special program Documentary, 2011
  • Keynote Speaker for Yukju Educational Foundation, Gyeongsan, 2011
  • Keynote Speaker, Sangju Educational Forum, Sangju, 2011
  • Human Documentary, KBS-America, 2009
  • Neverending Story, “The Return of the Hope of Korea”, Documentary, MBC TV, 2008
  • Keynote Speaker, 21st Century Women’s CEO Association, Seoul, Korea, 2004
  • Keynote Speaker, Orientation of Incoming Freshmen, Sook Myung University, 2004
  • 3 Day TV Special, Can Do Show, MBC TV, 2001
  • Keynote Speaker, Fed. of Korea Industries & Int’l Mgmt Institute, Int’l CEO Forum, Cheju, 2001
  • Keynote Speaker for Opening Ceremonies of Seoul Int’l Computer Fair, Digital Expo Korea, 2001
  • Keynote Speaker for Korea Human Development Institute Management seminar, 2001
  • Keynote Speaker for Lecture at Provincial Government Office, Gangwan-do, 2001
  • Keynote Speaker for Worldwide Managers Meeting, Coreana Cosmetic Company, 2001
  • Featured Guest, KBS International Radio program, 40 day documentary of life story, 2001
  • Keynote Speaker for Executive Management Meeting, Samsung Corning, 2001
  • Keynote Speaker for College of Business & Economics at Yonsei University, 2001
  • SBS TV, Good Morning Show, KBS Newsline Special, and MBN News Special, 2001
  • Arirang TV, Happy Station Show, 2001
  • Jeju MBC lecture TV Special, 2001
  • Keynote speaker for Lecture at Cho Dal Chung, Public Procurement Service, Taejon, 2001
  • Keynote speaker for Lecture & book signing at Incheon Soong Duk High School, 2001
  • Keynote speaker for Lecture at Jinju City Hall, 2001
  • Keynote speaker for Lecture at R.O.K. Air University, Taejon, 2001
  • Keynote Speaker for Lecture at Seoul Metropolitan City Government, 2001
  • Keynote speaker for Lecture at Gyeongsangbuk-Do City Hall, 2001
  • Keynote speaker for Lecture at Sejong University, 2001
  • Keynote Speaker for Management & Medical Professionals at Cheil Hospital, 1996
  • Keynote Speaker for Managers at Sang-A Pharmaceutical, 1996
  • Many more…

PUBLIC & COMMUNITY SERVICE

  • Marine Toys for Tots Foundation
  • Save the Children
  • City Team Ministries
  • Make a Wish Foundation
  • Christian Children’s Fund
  • International Orphanages
  • San Jose Family Shelter
  • American Cancer Society, “Relay for Life”
  • International SOS Children’s Village
  • Safe House for Women & Children
  • Battered Women’s Shelter
  • Special Olympics
  • Inner City Games/After School All Stars
  • Professional Women in Business Association
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Elderly Retirement Center of Vermont
  • Tri-Cities Children’s Group
  • San Jose Rehabilitation and Correctional Center
  • Father John’s Homeless Shelter of San Jose
  • Adolescent Residential Center (ARC) Program
  • Many more…

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