About Dr. Tae Yun Kim

The story of Dr. Tae Yun Kim is a message of hope for all who want more from their lives.

TYK Cutout Suit-minHer life has been a monumental struggle. It began in a traditional culture that tried to restrain her goals and put her into a role she did not want. 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, taken over by negative influences, or simply those who feel there must be more to their lives, the life story of Dr. Kim is a point of inspiration and a road map for others to use as they seek more 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 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.

Life was very hard

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

During the Korean War, families fled their villages with their sons, often abandoning their daughters. Tae Yun was one such girl. At the age of five, she was left alone while bombs fell all around her. She encountered another young girl a few years older than her. She came up to young Tae Yun and told her that she had to get away from the bombs. “Let’s race!” she said. These words sounded so sweet to Tae Yun’s ears. This was the first time someone had been truly nice to her. Someone cared about her and wanted to help her. Tae Yun was excited and raced after her new friend. She ran hard to keep up with the older girl, but as they were running, a bomb exploded right in front of them.

Standing her ground

As Tae Yun 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 arm was blown off and all around her Tae Yun could see the bodies of people from her village. She had been told throughout her whole life that she was a curse and bad luck, but now here she was, alive. Filled with sadness from losing her first and only friend, from this point forward, Tae Yun decided that she would stand her ground and fight for her life. She was not going to run anymore.

After the war, Tae Yun 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 insisted that her uncles teach her. They told her that because she was a girl, she could not train. They told her to learn to cook and sew instead—if she was lucky, she could get married, produce twelve sons, and be set for life. But Tae Yun’s mind was made up. She would learn the martial art. She did not want to be like her mother or her grandmother. She wanted to be an original. Finally, one of her uncles agreed to teach her, certain that she would give up after a few bruises. To his surprise, Tae Yun did not give up. Instead, she trained hard and progressed quickly.

Would not be married off

At this point, her grandparents put their feet down. Enough was enough. In their eyes, it was bad enough that this girl had been such a curse on their family, but now she was practicing Tae Kwon Do. They decided to have her married off, but Tae Yun would not let that happen. During an interview with a matchmaker, she was asked to serve tea to show the matchmaker that she could be graceful and polite and 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, Tae Yun’s grandfather had tried everything to make her change. Finally, he called in a well-known Buddhist Master to convince her to behave as he thought she should. This special meeting would change Tae Yun Kim’s life forever.

Tae Yun was outside when her grandfather and this new person approached. 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 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 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 and into her heart and then said, “Okay, I will teach you.” Tae Yun’s life and mission started at this moment.

A new life

Training was everything for Tae Yun. Everywhere else in her life, people 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’s master recognized her dedication and passed on the secrets of internal Ki energy that would form the foundation of what Tae Yun shares with the world today. In the snow, the rain, the sun, and throughout the day and night, Tae Yun dedicated every ounce of energy she had to learning and being the best student.

The master encouraged Tae Yun and her family to try living in the United States. So, in 1968, she and her family moved to Burlington, Vermont with just $300 to their name and not knowing a word of English. Even so, Tae Yun 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 wanted to open her own martial arts 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, it was quickly burnt to the ground by an arsonist.

Three jobs to make ends meet

Working three jobs to make ends meet, Tae Yun pumped gas, cleaned bathrooms at a local hotel, and 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 even in America, the land of opportunity, she was still being shunned.

Tae Yun hit rock bottom. She lost all hope and all will to live. Her excitement about coming to the USA was completely gone. No matter how hard she worked and how much enthusiasm she put into everything she did, she felt like she wasn’t getting anywhere. Tae Yun wondered why her master wanted her to come to this strange and hostile place. All she could feel was despair and loneliness. 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 truly felt she couldn’t go on any longer. She went up a mountain, taking only her bible. With no tent, blanket, food, or water, she fasted and prayed for two weeks, begging God to let her die. At the end of the second week, she received a vision of the passage Isaiah 60, which comforted her immensely. Her vision also included a message from God to, of all things, start a computer company.

A vision for the future

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

A couple of months later, however, when she wasn’t fasting, she had the exact same vision. This time, she knew she had to take action.

Tae Yun, together 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 got from selling her house, she quickly lost everything after a series of business crises. But Tae Yun 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 noticed some of the kids in her martial arts classes had blisters on their hands. When she asked how they got them, 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 and mindless games for hours, she set Lighthouse in motion to make Bible-based video games. Games based on the Story of Moses and Samson and Delilah were some of the first games they made.

Business success in Silicon Valley

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 moved her company to the heart of the Silicon Valley in California.

This was where technology was booming. 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 world’s leading provider of components for hard disk drives. They created a global system that monitored the purity 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 has 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. Lighthouse was the winner of two back-to-back “Best Places to Work” awards, among other product awards

Having been awarded an honorary business degree from one of Korea’s top colleges, Dr. Kim is now known around the world as a business visionary. She was awarded a grand prize 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. Kim continues to drive the Lighthouse Development Team to invent and create new products that lead the industry in monitoring clean air and water.

Inspiring others to reach their dreams

Tae Yun Kim has become a true icon of success. She offers her life story to the world so others can be inspired to use her life experiences as a roadmap to their own unique and individual success stories.

As a modern day warrior, Dr. Kim still teaches the ancient principles of Ki Energy at her martial arts school, Jung SuWon Martial Art Academy. At Jung SuWon, students overcome their challenges and achieve their successes through her teaching and inspiration.

The country of Korea has honored Dr. Kim 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 go beyond what they think is possible.

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   

Bestselling Book

  • 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 (2 Covers)
  • New World
  • American Fitness (Cover)
  • Korea Daily News
  • CEO Magazine (Cover)
  • Top Magazine (Cover)
  • SF Journal Magazine (Cover)
  • ELLE
  • San Francisco Examiner
  • Chicago Post
  • The Business Journal
  • The Argus
  • San Francisco Business Times
  • Myself Magazine (Cover)
  • Tae Kwon Do Times (6 covers)
  • Inside Karate Magazine
  • Star
  • Asian Week
  • Faces International
  • Weekly Morning Korean News
  • Wirtschaftswoche
  • Taipei Times
  • Many more…

Achievements & Recognition, USA   

  • Winner of the Gold Lifetime Achievement Award in the annual Golden Bridge Awards program, honoring the achievements and positive contributions of individuals, organizations, and businesses worldwide, 2018
  • Winner of a Gold Lifetime Achievement Award presented at the 16th Annual American Business Awards, the premier business awards program in the U.S., 2018
  • Winner of the Gold Stevie® Award for Women in Business for the “Best New Product of the Year—Business Products” category, 2017
  • Winner of Silver “Lifetime Achievement” Stevie Award, 2017
  • 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 & Media Appearance, North America   

  • Featured Speaker, Global Forum 2018 with The Inspired CEO and 90 Minutes of Solutions at Harvard University Law School, June 2018
  • Speaker at the World Women Members Conference, hosted by the international Korean National Unification Advisory Council, San Francisco, CA, June 2018
  • Keynote Speaker & Workshop Presenter, Women of Silicon Valley 2017, Santa Clara, CA, April 2017
  • 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 & 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…
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