L.A. Times’ Max Kim Earns an Editorial Excellence Award from the Society of Publishers in Asia

Los Angeles Times Seoul correspondent Max Kim
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On June 20, Max Kim, the Los Angeles Times’ correspondent in Seoul, was recognized by the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) with an Editorial Excellence Award. The awards were presented at a livestreamed ceremony in Hong Kong.

Kim earned an Award of Excellence in the Feature Writing/Global category for his Column One piece, For 40 years he blamed himself for a girl’s murder. Then came a shocking discovery. The article relays the compelling story of Choi Byung-moon, who was a private first class in 1980 in the Chun Doo-hwan military junta in South Korea. The junta had just seized power in a coup d’etat and declared martial law when Byung-moon was ordered to count the number of bodies in a minibus after a brigade opened fire on it. As he counted, a girl on the bus stood up, leading to a situation that haunted him for decades.

The competition’s judges called Kim’s piece “a masterfully told story” that was “extremely moving.


“The reporter deftly weaves universal questions about the reliance of memory, our individual role in history and the search for atonement into a compelling narrative of a former soldier’s obsession with the fate of one girl,” they noted.

SOPA is a Hong Kong-based nonprofit organization that works to uphold media standards and freedoms while celebrating and supporting professional journalism and publishing.

View the complete list of winners from the competition on the SOPA Awards site.