An entry to a spring-themed photo contest is sparking widespread debate throughout Vietnam.
The photo in question, showing two flower vendors paddling through the flooded Hoi An Ancient Town in central Vietnam, is under fired by many who believe it was inappropriately staged and an insult to local flood victims.
Those in support of the photo say the photo truly depicts the situation in Hoi An and the undeterred optimism of the flower vendors who refused to allow the natural disaster to affect their livelihood.
The controversial photo, originally named “Spring comes amid flood season,” was submitted to a competition held by the Ho Chi Minh City Photography Association to embrace the upcoming Lunar New Year.
The contest winners will be showcased in a public exhibition during the Lunar New Year holiday, or Tet in Vietnamese, which falls in late January.
The photo captures two women dawning raincoats and paddling a small boat loaded with chrysanthemums past a boarded store in Hoi An, conveying the idea that spring has arrived despite the foul weather.
However, after each entry was posted to the contest’s website for public voting, the photo was met with negative feedback, with detractors commenting that it was unrealistic and staged.
Critics say the flood was a serious plague to the people in Hoi An and saying ‘spring has come’ is an insult to those still suffering.
One commenter posted, “who would ever submit a flood picture as entry to a spring-themed contest?”
“The author was insensitive of the mishap of the flood victims in Hoi An,” Duy Anh, a photographer in the southern province of Tien Giang, said.
Anh said the photo may be able to win international prizes as the scene looks unfamiliar to foreigners, but “to Vietnamese, it is offensive.”
In reaction to the criticism, the photographer behind the photo asked the contest organizers to rename his work “Hoi An in flood season.”
A flooded Hoi An
The photographer has also received support from other viewers, many of whom say there is nothing wrong with selling flowers during flood time.
Supporters say the photo is a true reflection of reality, as central Vietnam has been repeatedly hit by flood and storm this year.
“During these tough times, people need to continue dreaming and the flowers are just the sign of hope,” a Tuoi Tre reader named Le Anh commented.
Others say it is unreasonable to expect people to not sell flowers during the flood. “Aren’t they allowed to make some money to recoup for the flood-caused losses?” a reader said.
According to supporters, “that the spring has arrived amid the flood season is still better than having no spring at all due to floods.”