Diana Kim is a Korean American photographer that enjoys taking photos of homeless people ever since she was in college. Thanks to this interest of hers, the 30-year-old photographer gets to meet her father again after her parents went separate ways since she was 5 years old.
Kim’s father used to be a photographer too. Growing up in Maui, Hawaii, Kim said that her father was the person that taught her how to photograph. She believes that photography opens a window for her to experience the world—from the people she interacted with and the things she interested in.
Kim was deeply immersed in photography and made it into her career.
When Kim was 5, her parents divorced and her father completely disappeared out of her sight.
Kim and her mother were having a difficult time after the divorce so they sometimes stay with their relatives and friends. In worst cases, the mother and daughter sometimes stay in the park or just spend the night in the car.
“I have always regarded my hardship as a kind of experience so that life doesn’t bother me too much. My survival instinct is very strong,” said Kim.
After entering college in 2003, Kim began taking photos of homeless people out of her own interest. Even in the next decade when she became a successful photographer, the life of the homeless has always been the subject in her photography.
Homeless people are at the center of Kim’s photography.
“I feel that I can understand their pain from a certain angle. I know what it meant to be abandoned and forgotten. I also know the pain of not being able to get a stable life and economic freedom that I long because I have experienced it all.”
When Kim was filming the Honolulu homeless in 2012, she suddenly saw her father on the corner of the street. Because they were separated when Kim was 5-year-old, her father could not recognize his own daughter but Kim recognized her father at a glance.
Kim recognized her father as soon as she saw him.
After hesitating, Kim walked over her father even when she didn’t know why she was so determined at that time. She realized that her father changed a lot physically, looking all disheveled.
“The father is much thinner than before and obviously he has severe schizophrenia. I finally walked to him and called him ‘Dad’. My father didn’t answer me, didn’t even turn to see me. So I stood by him trying to attract his attention, looking forward to him being able to recognize me.”
Kim’s father was homeless and schizophrenic.
“But at that time a lady came to me and asked me to just ignore him because he has always been standing there like that. I really feel like wanted to bark at that woman because I thought what she said was ruthless. He is my father but that woman didn’t understand, so I just said to her that I must try to wake him up.”
As the father’s serious schizophrenia was not treated, he usually does not respond to anything and often seen arguing with the people around him—but the truth is there was no one around him.
Kim’s father also refused his daughter’s help to get him treated.
Even when her countless effort went down the drain, Kim never gives up. She always goes back to him, keeping all her hopes close to her heart. One day, Kim heard that her father had a heart attack on the street and was taken to the hospital.
At the same time, Kim had a glimmer of hope because her father can finally be in the hospital to be able to receive treatment.
Thankfully, her father’s condition greatly improved after the treatment. He now has friends again and started looking for a job to earn money. Kim feels that seeing her father gets back to his normal life is the best gift for her and she sees challenges as an opportunity for growth.
Kim’s father is slowly gaining back his health.
He started to look for a job to earn money and to have a sense of accomplishment.
Just like how photography let her meets her father again, Kim hoped that she can change people’s views on the homeless issue through her story.
We’re glad that Kim’s father is now getting better than ever.