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Culture in 2020: What Vietnam lost and found in the year of COVID-19

Tuesday, December 29, 2020, 11:08 GMT+7
Culture in 2020: What Vietnam lost and found in the year of COVID-19
A visitor contemplates an artwork on display at an exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City, November 2020. Photo: Mai Thuy / Tuoi Tre

Like so many aspects of everyday life, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant and ongoing impact on cultural and entertainment institutions in Vietnam this year. 

Artists of all disciplines have readjusted their ways of working, and many are left wondering whether they will have the wherewithal or spirit to continue their craft even after the pandemic abates. 

Even with the losses, resilience and creativity have led to new ways of experiencing culture. 

As 2020 comes to a close, Tuoi Tre News offers a look back on what the country lost and found in its cultural lives.

A year of loss

2020 is a year full of tragedies for Vietnam’s art industry when several famous Vietnamese artists and musicians left this world.

The deaths of actor, director and producer Nguyen Chanh Tin, martial actor Ly Huynh, musician Pho Duc Phuong, musician Lam Phuong, People’s Artist Tran Phuong, actress Anh Hoa, comedian Chi Tai, actress Mai Phuong, as well as other Vietnamese artists were great losses for the local industry.

A collage of the late artist Chi Tai (left), the late actor, director and producer Nguyen Chanh Tin (center), and the late martial actor Ly Huynh (right), who passed away in 2020.

A collage of late comedian Chi Tai (left), late actor, director and producer Nguyen Chanh Tin (center), and late martial actor Ly Huynh (right), who passed away in 2020

Art world goes online

Given the complicated development of the COVID-19 pandemic, many cultural and entertainment events had to be postponed or canceled, and cinemas and theaters closed en masse to prevent the spread of the disease. 

The performing arts industry faced the risk of losing its audience forever. 

Fortunately, online performing platforms appeared as a relief.

Many artists and art units quickly adapted to the pandemic context by using the Internet and digital platforms, setting up channels on YouTube and other video-sharing and -streaming infrastructures, and delivering online performances to meet people’s entertainment demands.

Online music shows were also useful in raising money for charity.

The online music event ‘Resilient Vietnam’ successfully raised VND1.3 billion (US$56,000) in only two hours to support COVID-19 prevention and control activities in April with the participation of 20 singers, artists, and footballers, together with 40,000 online followers.

Popular Vietnamese streamer Do Mixi is pictured at his studio.

Popular Vietnamese streamer Do Mixi is pictured at his studio.

Vietnam’s anti-COVID-19 songs

Vietnamese artists produced several songs related to the pandemic prevention and control, encouraging the community spirit and paying respects to people on the front line of the COVID-19 battle, including medical and military officers.

Notably, the music video for the parody song entitled ‘Ghen Co Vy,’ whose lyrics were rewritten from a popular Vietnamese pop song, gained international attention after its appearance in the late-night talk and news satire television program ‘Last Week Tonight’ hosted by comedian John Oliver on HBO and French television channel BFMTV in March.

The hand-washing dance performed by dancer Quang Dang, with the ‘Ghen Co Vy’ song being the music background, was also featured on the verified Facebook page of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and in Billboard magazine in the same month.

A screenshot of the English music video for Vietnam’s ‘Ghen Co Vy’ COVID-19 PSA song.

A screenshot of the English music video for Vietnam’s ‘Ghen Co Vy’ COVID-19 PSA song.

Dak Nong Geopark joins network of UNESCO Global Geoparks

On July 7, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized the Dak Nong Geopark as a global geopark.

Located in the Central Highlands region, the park has some 65 heritage sites, including craters, a network of 50 volcanic caves stretching a total length of ten kilometers, and waterfalls.

It also boasts interesting culture, natural geology, and traces of early human life. 

The Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark in northern Ha Giang Province and the Non Nuoc Cao Bang Geopark in northern Cao Bang Province were previously recognized as global geoparks in Vietnam.

This aerial photo shows the Nam Kar volcano within Dak Nong Global Geopark in Dak Nong Province, Vietnam. Photo: Tran An

This aerial photo shows the Nam Kar volcano within Dak Nong Global Geopark in Dak Nong Province, Vietnam. Photo: Tran An

New Miss Vietnam

The country awarded the Miss Vietnam 2020 crown to Do Thi Ha, a 19-year-old contestant from the north-central province of Thanh Hoa, on November 20.

Born in 2001, the 1.75-meter-tall beauty outshined nearly 400 other contestants to win the title.

Pham Ngoc Phuong Anh from Ho Chi Minh City was the first runner-up, and Nguyen Le Ngoc Thao, another resident of Ho Chi Minh City, was the second runner-up at the Miss Vietnam 2020 beauty pageant.

Miss Vietnam 2020 is the 17th iteration of the Miss Vietnam contest which has been held every two years since 1988.

This supplied photo shows newly-crowned Miss Vietnam Do Thi Ha (center), first runner-up Pham Ngoc Phuong Anh (left), and second runner-up Nguyen Le Ngoc Thao during the closing part of the Miss Vietnam 2020 beauty pageant’s final in Ho Chi Minh City, November 20, 2020.

This supplied photo shows newly-crowned Miss Vietnam Do Thi Ha (center), first runner-up Pham Ngoc Phuong Anh (left), and second runner-up Nguyen Le Ngoc Thao during the closing part of the Miss Vietnam 2020 beauty pageant’s final in Ho Chi Minh City, November 20, 2020.

Vietnam International Fashion Week

With meticulous and careful investment, the Aquafina Vietnam International Fashion Week 2020, an event of international stature, took place successfully from December 3 to 6 at Nguyen Du Sports Center in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. 

The 11th edition of the biannual event, themed ‘The Future Is Now,’ offered world-class fashion shows by 18 Vietnamese fashion designers and brands.

Fashion designer Bao Bao (center) poses for a photo with celebrities donning Vietnam's traditional 'ao dai' from his new collection at the Aquafina Vietnam International Fashion Week in Ho Chi Minh City, December 5, 2020. Photo: Kieng Can / Tuoi Tre

Fashion designer Bao Bao (center) poses for a photo with celebrities donning Vietnam's traditional 'ao dai' from his new collection at the Aquafina Vietnam International Fashion Week in Ho Chi Minh City, December 5, 2020. Photo: Kieng Can / Tuoi Tre

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