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Dangerous game show sparks public debate in Vietnam

Wednesday, March 23, 2016, 14:45 GMT+7

An episode of a game show aired on Vietnamese national television on March 19 has ignited concern over the dangers contestants are exposed to in trying to win prizes.

The third episode of Song Dau, an imported version of the Danish game show Versus, went live to air at 8:00 pm on Saturday night.

The show features battles between contestants in various disciplines, and challenges 20 audience members to guess which player will win.

Those who predict the outcome correctly remain in play, with the ultimate prize of VND100 million (US$4,500) in cash.

The show attracted controversy on Saturday night, when it broadcast two dangerous games that led directly to on-stage accidents.

The first contest was between Huynh Tuan Vu, the first Vietnamese player of the didgeridoo (a 150cm-long wind instrument developed by indigenous Australians), and professional diver Tran Huu Thoi, to see who could hold their breath the longest.

Vu had to play the didgeridoo in a single breath, while Thoi had his face submerged in a tank of water.

Thoi won by the narrowest of margins, but appeared dizzy and lost his balance after the effort, falling and knocking over the water tank as the audience anxiously watched.

The second clash was between kungfu master Nguyen Kim Tuan, named Vietnam’s fastest coconut peeler using his teeth, and 16-year-old My Linh, a professional coconut peeler of 1,200 coconuts a day. Their challenge was to see who could peel two coconuts the fastest.

While Tuan used his teeth, Linh peeled her coconuts using a pointed tool secured to the ground.

In her rush, Linh accidentally cut herself and had to concede mid-game, while Tuan, who was named the winner, also lost a tooth in the process.


Nguyen Kim Tuan is seen peeling a coconut using his teeth during the show Song Dau broadcast on VTV3 channel at 8:00 pm, March 19, 2016. Photo: Dong Tay Promotion

“This is carelessness on the organizers’ side. Safety must be the top priority in game shows like this. I hope they have learnt some lessons from these incidents,” television viewer Nha Tram wrote on the show’s fan page.

Nguyen Huynh Nhi expressed her opposition more strongly, saying, “This is a ruthless game. While the grown-ups were cheering, My Linh had to perform the task under immense pressure…while My Linh was holding her bleeding hand in pain, the host and audience paid her no attention and continued cheering for the kungfu master.”

Responding to the negative feedback, Do Kim Nhung, producer of Song Dau, said, “The fighters’ safety is our top priority when producing the show. Medical assistants are always present during the recording, and all fighters are insured at the production company’s expense.”

“Moreover, fighters who wish to compete in the show must submit relevant papers proving their special ability. We have a very strict selection procedure and have rejected many applicants,” Nhung added.

The clash between Nguyen Kim Tuan and My Linh during the show Song Dau broadcast on VTV3 channel at 8:00 pm, March 19, 2016. Clip: YouTube

The clash between Huynh Tuan Vu and Tran Huu Thoi during the show Song Dau broadcast on VTV3 channel at 8:00 pm, March 19, 2016. Clip: YouTube

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