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Busan on May 16th, 2020

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Coming to South Korea on a 90-day tourist visa, I never thought I would need to renew it, but thanks to the coronavirus, I had to, just last week.

Encountering bureaucracy anywhere is usually stressful, but thankfully, the process here was quick and straightforward. Koreans know how to be efficient. Buses and trains always run on time, and my dealings with a Busan bank has also been extremely smooth.

Setting up an appointment online, I filled out a brief form, then added, on my own initiative, a letter in English, which I also had translated into Korean. I stated that although I was an American citizen, I had been living in Vietnam, so needed to return there. I had no US home. With my situation clearly stated, the officer took less than five minutes to stamp 30 more days onto my passport.

My guesthouse is filled with people who are stuck. There’s Javier from Spain, who needs to go back to his home in Thailand, but since this doesn’t seem possible soon, he may have to fly to Spain. Twenty-four-year-old Gustavo from Brazil got a visa extension, then, just days ago, managed to book a flight home. Gustavo came here to improve his Korean, which he had studied in Brazil. His English is excellent.

“You’re going to miss this place!” I said to Gustavo.

“I know. I will.”

“So when are you going to return?”

“I need to save money first. I want to go to graduate school here. I will apply back in Brazil.”

“What will you study?”

“Linguistics.”

“Wow, that’s great. You’re gifted.”

“Thank you.”

Short of cash, Gustavo has been exchanging labor for room and board at the guesthouse. Several others are doing the same.

Just as in Seoul, Busan’s main train station is a hub for the homeless. Each evening, more than a hundred line up to receive a hot dinner ladled up by a Christian charity. It also dishes out sermons and songs, heartily belted out, accompanied by a guitar. At night, several homeless sleep within sight of my guesthouse’s front door, and once, a drunk one pissed right outside it. This door is never locked, however, for there’s no danger of anyone coming in to steal the computer, printer, coffee machine or food, and female guests have no fear of encountering an intruder at 3 in the morning.

Regarding the coronavirus crisis, much has been made of the Swedish model, but what about the Korean one? As I’ve stated repeatedly, life goes on here. This week, I took a three-hour bus trip to Namhae, visited a hilltop Buddhist temple in Beomeosa, strolled with the festive crowd through the bar and restaurant district of Seomyeon and basked my sorry assed carcass on Dadaepo Beach. In Namsan-dong, I followed a cranky old guy with a cane into a basement café, only to find it oddly dark and lined with semi private booths.

Cheap, eight-pronged lighting fixtures glowed red, blue and viridian. A TV was left on to drown out moist noises. It turned out to be a hostess joint, but with only one “girl.”

Likely over 45-years-old, she was still sweet to behold, but since I had never had an appetite for such, I gulped my Americano while she comforted the old fart. Having survived war, poverty, backbreaking labor, widowhood and ungrateful children and grandchildren, he certainly deserved some boobies, if not a handjob. Only $2.40 lighter, I reemerged into the sunshine.

Most of us are invigorated and comforted by the proximity of other bodies, so even when living alone, we prefer to have social spaces nearby. Bars, restaurants, cafes, shopping malls and parks all fulfill this essential need. We don’t go to the stadium just to watch the game, but to be subsumed into a tribe, be it Wolverines, Buckeyes or Red Sox. Stadia are wombs, for sure.

Men have a more insistent need to get out, and that’s why they become long distance truckers, airline pilots, sailors and mercenaries, etc.

When Kurtz’ wife asked Marlow about her husband’s last utterance, Marlow answered, “The last word he pronounced was—your name.” Of course, it was, most famously, “The horror! The horror!” An overly familiar horror is equated with one in a diseased-infested and hostile jungle.

Waking this morning, I could have stayed in my guesthouse room to write this, but I chose to take the subway many miles away, because, to begin with, it was soothing to see folks on the subway. I’m always touched by the sight of old Korean women who dress like small girls, with frills, ruffles and cartoon figures on their clothing, and even on the subway, many of them don’t bother to take their ridiculous huge visors off. Dozing, one had her money purse carelessly placed on the seat next to her.

Wrapping this up, I’m at Lotte Mart, which is named after Charlotte of The Sorrows of Young Werther, by the way. To my right is some middle-aged guy in a cowboy hat, with two large books on his table, a very rare sight nowadays, of course. He’s also writing, but with a pen. At another table, four people are happily munching french fries. Shoppers’ babble fills the air.

It’s sunny outside. Water you must pay for, but sunlight and air are still free, though rationed. While you read these coronavirus missives from California and Vietnam, I’m getting back on that subway. I’m getting antsy. Life beckons.

 

Bill, a retired American living in Morro Bay, CA

ORDER IT NOW

There are definitely worse places to be stuck in right now than Morro Bay. It is about mid-way between the LA and SF metro areas, about 3-4 hours drive from each, and definitely not big city, so things are much less crowded and more relaxed here so far. The grocery stores require everyone to mask up before entering, but you can still walk around town outside to your heart’s content without getting dirty looks or police attention. The parking lots to all the beaches have been barricaded off, but you are still allowed to walk down there if you park on the street (with signs advising cars to park at least 10 feet apart!) Lots of food grows near here and the farmers markets are still open and full of food, so while we can’t always get our favorites, we probably won’t be the first to starve if the supply chain snaps completely. I retired about 3-1/2 years ago and no longer have a job to worry about losing, but income streams and even money itself are on uncertain footing nowadays. I’ve hedged as well as I know how against that eventuality.

My sisters, my wife, those few friends I have been able to stay in touch with, tradespeople I come into contact with—all seem way too concerned about the virus itself, and completely oblivious about the wider implications of what we are doing to ourselves. They believe I’m being overly dramatic when I tell them that things will likely never go back to “normal” again, especially in the US.

My habit is to walk a few miles every day, and I still do that with no issues. I’ve been out a handful of times, mostly to the grocery store and the farmers market for fresh stuff. There is a lot of little stuff we take so much for granted that we may not even notice it can’t be done until we need it and it isn’t there. Haircuts is one good example. The dentist is another; I was able to actually make two visits to the dentist, believe it or not—he said that as long as he doesn’t have to drill (which creates an aerosol), he can still accommodate occasional patients. I was unlucky enough to be awaiting a crown from the lab when the lockdown hit, and had a temporary filling that kept coming out, so he had me in to put in the permanent one. Being able to eat and enjoy it becomes a much bigger deal when you’re home all the time!

I made my annual trip to Taiwan back in November, and came home just before Thanksgiving, prior to the start of all this hoo-hah. My wife always stays longer, and originally was going to come back in late March, but the virus changed her plans. Taiwan seems to be handling this much better than most, with very few sick people and life pretty much like normal, so she feels her health is not as robust as mine, she decided to extend her stay indefinitely. I’m flying solo here in the US until she decides it’s safe enough to fly home.

Modern Taipei is a very sharp and modern city that no one would be ashamed or reluctant to call home. Unlike most big cities in the US, there are no “bad neighborhoods” anywhere in the sense of personal safety. You can wander to your heart’s content and never feel threatened or at risk. The Taiwanese themselves are congenial and friendly folks, and it is from the heart and not due to some outdated sense of deference to prosperous Westerners that used to be more common. Everyone behaves well on mass transit, and many young people still give up their seats for the elderly or infirm. More than once when I was studying a street map on the wall at one of the MRT stations, a couple of young people who knew decent English came up and asked me if I needed help finding something.

My wife and I have thought about selling out and moving over there, but I myself am concerned for Taiwan’s future. Here in the US the likely end game is that things will go off into the weeds, with the quality of life taking a serious turn for the worse for everyone but the uber-wealthy. But in Taiwan it still seems possible that a belligerent China may yet decide to force the issue, and end up in an actual war or under mainland occupation. The US may end up involved, or even worse, be instrumental in forcing such an engagement; if so, being a US citizen in what would become a China-ruled island might be hazardous to one’s health for a while.


Matt, 50-years-old, English language teacher at an international university in HCMC

This crisis has changed my life to the negative, but I really can’t complain too much. My daughter is now 8 and just returned to school last week. Her experience staying at home was stressful at times, but we adjusted and found a way to live together. My Vietnamese wife is an amazing mother and wife, keeping us well fed and keeping my daughter busy as much as possible indoors in a small apartment. So I’m lucky—I’m isolated but not lonely. I’ve been working from home since mid-March, though my students started online learning earlier, in February. I miss going into work—the social aspects of work can’t be overlooked, and most of my social life was based around seeing and talking to actual people and making connections that way. Socializing online is ok, but it’s not really my way. I’m still very lucky to have work, though it is part-time, and I don’t mind because it gives me more time for studying (see below).

Since September of last year I’ve been studying for a Master’s degree in Digital Technology Communications and Education by distance learning with a UK university. So the crisis was serendipitous in two ways for me: I was enrolled in a course on online teaching and learning when most of the world changed to remote online education. It was a great experience for me learning about the subject, actually practicing teaching online, observing my colleagues’ virtual classroom, and supporting my students in a virtual learning environment. Very much experiential learning. The other course I took was Digital, Media and Information literacy. The professor is excellent, and illustrated concepts in the course using the ‘information hurricane’ that has accompanied this crisis. I guess the main theme in the course is that we need to be literate, to make judgements about information, to communicate with others so that our dialogue helps us make better decisions. We see this process drawn out in the disputes about information relevant to Covid-19. How judgments about information that later proved faulty has resulted in poor government policy decisions in many Western countries.

ORDER IT NOW

I really don’t know what to believe. I’m most worried about another lockdown period. Having a young daughter at home all the time is stressful and cannot be good for her in the long run. I’m worried that Vietnam’s decision to suppress the virus rather than risk herd immunity will result in a second wave if they allow tourists back in without quarantine.

The situation in Saigon now is very good. Most people are cautious, very health aware, most wear masks in public, though life has returned. This all can change in an instant if another hotspot appears. I find it fascinating that the worst case of Covid-19 in Vietnam is the Vietnam Airlines pilot, who is British, 43 years old, only has 10% lung capacity left, cytokine storm has affected him badly. He said he had no family when he was admitted to hospital and now the doctors here cannot do a lung transplant—though there are willing Vietnamese donors—because there is no next of kin to sign the permission documents. How can a 43-year-old have no family? How can the British embassy be so inept that they can’t find his family? Vietnam is seemingly pulling out all the stops so keep the zero deaths from Covid-19 on their record.

For permanent effects, I read all the time about what alternative journalists and writers like yourself think the future holds. Today’s was Pepe Escobar writing about ‘biosecurity’ as an extension of Foucault’s biopolitics. Do you know Naomi Klein, who coined ‘disaster capitalism’ and ‘shock doctrine’? There is no question that tech firms will increase in power in future. Her latest article for The Intercept is sobering. I don’t know how you feel about this Slavoj Zizek character, but his writing led me to Naomi Klein’s article. His characterization of lockdown as us being in the matrix is apt.

I think a year from now my adopted country, Vietnam, will still be free of tourists as letting people in without 14-day quarantine runs counter to their suppression strategy, and no tourist will take a holiday that includes 14 days of quarantine in a military base! I think my home country, Canada, will be even more cold, unfriendly and isolating than it was when I left 10 years ago. I think it will take longer than one year for the virus to run its course and until then we will try to live the best we know how in a socially distant society.

Linh Dinh’s latest book is Postcards from the End of America. He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

 
• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Coronavirus, South Korea, Vietnam 
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  1. Why so many homeless in South Korea? I wonder if you’d find as many, if any, in North Korea.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  2. Dumbo says:

    I think a year from now my adopted country, Vietnam, will still be free of tourists as letting people in without 14-day quarantine runs counter to their suppression strategy, and no tourist will take a holiday that includes 14 days of quarantine in a military base!

    You know what, perhaps one good thing that can come out of this is a rethinking of mass tourism. Nothing against travelling, I actually love it, it’s just a certain type of mass tourism, especially those huge cruises, or these kind of organized trips with busloads of people staying one day in each city, all those crowds are very damaging, especially to small places like Venice, etc. I hope that countries start to reconsider mass tourism, and realize that money is not everything. But of course, since many countries live from tourism, it might not change all that much, Covid or not covid.

    I think my home country, Canada, will be even more cold, unfriendly and isolating than it was when I left 10 years ago

    Well, cold it will always likely be, unless Greta is right. 😉 Unfriendly and isolating, I don’t know. Why do you say that?

    • Thanks: Current History
  3. jo6pac says:

    Thanks and stay safe.

  4. Anonymous[191] • Disclaimer says:
    @Commentator Mike

    In every advanced society there are social misfits and varying degrees of crazy people who can’t live with others and/or lack the social skills and self-discipline to hold down a job and live a clean orderly life. In North Korea, these people would be sent to a gulag to isolate them from society but in any society that doesn’t have vagrancy laws, you will always have these people living on the street.

    • Replies: @foolisholdman
  5. Problem is for the misfits there are very few places left to go where one can be left alone. The whole world now is soaked in American culture, which despite its promise of individuality is as conformist as it gets. Seoul is more an American city that Seattle.

    The settling of the American West was probably the most liberating period for misfits. Few were immigrants. Vast majority were those east of the Mississippi who just decided, “Fock it, let’s get out from under this oppressive religion-victorianism-government regime”. Little known is that between 1865-1890 the settlers were predominately Civil War vets, both North and South. Probably suffering some form of PTSD who just wanted to get away from “civilized society”.

  6. @Anonymous

    I don’t think that is true. When I was growing up in England (I was born in the mid 30s) there were no people living in the streets. Very occasionally I saw a tramp, less than once a year, I should think. Effectively, one did not see a beggar from one year to the next until Thatcher came to power. Britain had no gulag. It is true we had mental hospitals, until Thatcher said that the insane should be “cared for in the community”, abolished the mental hospitals, turned the patients out into the street and gave the local authorities nothing to help them with. Yes, then we became an “advanced society” such as you describe. It was made worse by the “Right to buy” social housing, but that’s another story.

    • Agree: Commentator Mike
  7. Vietnam is seemingly pulling out all the stops so keep the zero deaths from Covid-19 on their record.

    What a delusional and “wannabe superstar” Vietnamese government is!!!

    Vietnam government should be humble on themselves and our country Vietnam and should not be overconfident about ‘zero death’ thing. I mean I already suspect since the beginning that Vietnam will have number of deaths by COVID-19 combine with weak healthy is just around about 10 to 100 people is the worse because I know that Vietnam have ability to do it combine the high common sense of Vietnamese especially the North Vietnamese. The reason Vietnam suddenly have the rise up of COVID-19 patient in the March because the government had low their guard down on the fly VN 54. After the stupid mistakes, Vietnam government had tried fixed the mistakes and right now the situation is going well especially the Hanoi city. I right know suspect that Vietnam may have only about 1 to 50 people will be died by COVID-19 mainly due to bad weak healthy body (I mean strong ones always good enough to resist the COVID-19).

    I think my ramble is pretty off-topic now. Main point here is that Vietnam government should now overconfident to declare that Vietnam have ‘Zero COVID-19 Death’ due to political games and right now they try to “save the face”, thank for the stupdid.

  8. Saggy says: • Website

    Most of us are invigorated and comforted by the proximity of other bodies, so even when living alone, we prefer to have social spaces nearby. Bars, restaurants, cafes, shopping malls and parks all fulfill this essential need. We don’t go to the stadium just to watch the game, but to be subsumed into a tribe, be it Wolverines, Buckeyes or Red Sox. Stadia are wombs, for sure.

    It’s amazing I suppose, but I don’t think I’ve seen that in print before.

    I have one of my own ! Why do we love to watch people getting killed on TV? Entertainment is part sacrificial religion, and the murders are the sacrifice. We’re appeasing God, or imagining we’re appeasing God by giving him the murder victims, in the hope that he will not need to take us.

    • Replies: @Biff
  9. supertjx says:

    Hello Linh Dinh! Really enjoy your travelogues. They are so insightful and funny. Please keep them coming!

  10. @Unorthodox Black Sheep VN

    Fix my typo:

    “should now” -> “should not”
    “I right know” -> ” I’m right now”

  11. Biff says:
    @Saggy

    Why do we love to watch people getting killed on TV?

    Only if it’s the “right” people that are being killed – the ones with the metaphoric black hats, being killed by the U.S. government approved white hats(sans the martyrs). If it was the other way around it would piss off the conditioned population and nobody would watch(not that it would get airtime to begin with).

  12. A curiosity regarding Linh Dinh’s ancestral homeland of Vietnam, is that it exports to China, Vietnam’s native ‘milk melon’, which has a quite unusual, part-of-the-female-human-form look to it … photos below of this side of ‘Mother Nature’
    http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/800503.shtml

  13. Linh Dinh says:

    Hi brabantian,

    They’re actually made by Nguyen Thi Hoai Tho. Shown at the Singapore Biennale 2013, Loofah Trellis is in the permanent collection of the Singapore Art Museum. On Amazon, some joker used images of her work to sell “Rare Breast Melon Vegetable Seeds From Vietnam.”

    Adding to the confusion, her name is sometimes misspelled as “Hoai Mo” online.

    Linh

    • Replies: @Graham Seibert
  14. Anonymous[366] • Disclaimer says:

    Hello, Linh,
    I notice from your photographs that it seems Koreans use Hangul almost exclusively for signage, thus your confusion of a girlie bar or massage joint for a regular cafe. If you do take a ferry to Japan as your next stop, you won’t have to worry about that, as Japanese use plenty of romaji and English signage, as well as katakana, hiragana and lots of kanji.
    Incidentally, it has really struck me that in Korea as depicted in your photos, kanji is scarcely used, whereas, if you can’t read kanji in Japan you are essentially illiterate.

    • Replies: @Dumbo
    , @Piglet
  15. HalconHigh says: • Website

    “We don’t go to the stadiun to just watch the game, but to be subsumed into a tribe”

    Good Stuff

  16. Dumbo says:

    “We don’t go to the stadiun to just watch the game, but to be subsumed into a tribe”

    I don’t go to stadiums, even though in theory I can understand the feeling. And yet, in this times of multiculturalism, what is the point? I mean of going to the stadium or watching it on the telly but instead of cheering for your “tribe”, you’re cheering for Africans or for a club that may represent your town or your country in name only, as it is really formed by foreign mercenaries?

    Also, sports used to be about who could perform best under normal, natural conditions, but now most high-level competitors, even in the Olympics that should be for “amateurs”, have become unnatural hormone and drug freaks. Not to mention the ridiculousness of “transgenders” competing as “females” in some sports. Soon, as it may be happening in China, athletes will be genetically engineered.

    Contemporary sport competitions make no sense whatsoever.

  17. Dumbo says:
    @Anonymous

    “Massge Paradaise”, sounds wonderful. Do they sucky sucky long time?

  18. @Dumbo

    Also a lot of sport matches are fixed by bookies. So you’re cheering on a team or a competitor when the result is know in advance by those that run the betting shops. This is far more widespread than we’re told.

  19. Biff says:
    @Dumbo

    I don’t go to stadiums,

    Ditto.. Not any more.. Some of the best times in my life was going to football games and rock concerts mid seventies through the eighties. Then something happened – war on terror? – war on reason? – war on gathering crowds? Shake me down, and feel up my wife after I spent $300 on tickets?; it happened the first and the last time all at once..

  20. @Linh Dinh

    Reading about the breast melons made me immediately think of the dark purple fruit we used to buy in Saigon called vu sua (or something like that). Mother’s milk. White meat and about 3 fair sized dark seeds. Delicious.

    Loved the letters from Matt and Bill, bringing me back to my childhood in California and my four years as a civilian in wartime Saigon. Do you solicit these letters, or just appreciate them when they come?

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
    , @Linh Dinh
  21. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Graham Seibert

    Hi Graham,

    I’ve solicited all these letters, but if anyone out there wants to send me an interesting coronavirus missive, here’s my email, [email protected] .

    Linh

  22. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Graham Seibert

    Below are the questions I send out, but they’re only meant as prompts. Responders are free to state whatever else they think is relevant.

    How has this crisis changed your life, if at all?

    What is the situation like in your city and/or country?

    What are you most worried about regarding this crisis, the disease itself, its effect on the economy or your government’s handling of it?

    How long do you think this crisis will last? Will there be any permanent effects?

    What do you think your city and country will be like a year from now?

  23. Zizek’s a joke, like Chomsky. I’ve just had a quick look at what each had to say about corona–all the usual bullshit. Naomi Klein is rotten to the core, it seems to me, very typical Jewish agenda type.

  24. HalconHigh says: • Website
    @Dumbo

    Haven’t been to a stadium in years also. It’s for the young.
    The 1st glimpse of a Big League Baseball field.
    Standing 10 feet away from Wilt Chamberlain.

    In the USA, recovery from the Pandemic, will be measured in how well the NFL season progresses.
    As one gets older, it’s interesting to see how the NFL has become a microcosm of the country.
    The NFL season will be played “at all costs”.

  25. Anonymous[812] • Disclaimer says:

    I saw in your photo blog, Linh, that there is a soul food joint in Korea that advertises chicken and waffles. It’s a personal peeve of mine that that has been appropriated as special black chow when it has always been a good Pennsylvania Dutch Sunday dinner. In the South, there is a variant using cornmeal waffles, but I’ve never heard of it being specifically associated with blacks. In James M. Cain’s 1941 novel “Mildred Pierce,” the protagonist becomes rich establishing a chain of chicken and waffle restaurants in southern California, long before the concept of soul food, let alone black “soul” had developed. That was a ’70s thing, as far as I can determine.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
    , @Truth
  26. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Anonymous

    I think the restaurant was going for the exotic factor. There are New York everything here, beauty salons, cafes, etc., and there’s even a Paris Burger in Miryang.

    Although not nearly as much as whiteness, blackness is also cool here and a selling point. There’s a chain, No Name Burger, that features a black guy on its signs and videos. And here’s NY Night Market in Seoul, which advertises itself as a “Soul Food maker.”

    In Gimcheon, I ran into a clothing store, Modern Black, and you see people walking around with a cool looking black guy on their T-shirt. Sometimes, their take on blackness can veer into the unPC, by American standards, such as this obese and toothy black chick in the famous Marilyn Monroe pose.

    Keep in mind, though, that Chinese restaurant signs here routinely show a ridiculous caricature of a Chinese, and Korean eateries display caricatures of Koreans. You also see people making grotesque or goofy faces on signs.

    Fried chicken is huge here, and there’s a chain, Mexicana, which has nothing to do with Mexican food. It’s extra spicy.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  27. Truth says:
    @Anonymous

    It’s a personal peeve of mine that that has been appropriated as special black chow when it has always been a good Pennsylvania Dutch Sunday dinner. In the South,

    Occam’s razor?

    Soul food (Southern) version
    This chicken and waffle pairing comes from American soul food and uses fried chicken. The waffle is served as it would be for breakfast, with condiments such as butter and syrup. This combination of foods is beloved by many people who are influenced by traditions of soul food passed down from past generations of their families. This version of the dish is popular enough in Baltimore, Maryland, to become a local custom.[1]

    Pennsylvania Dutch version
    The traditional Pennsylvania Dutch version consists of a plain waffle with pulled, stewed chicken on top, covered in gravy.[2] It is generally found in the Northeastern United States.

    The expert cooks at Warriner’s Tavern were African-American women, either freed or runaway slaves, who learned their trade in plantation house kitchens. Prior to the Civil War, chicken and waffles were extravagant breakfast staples in plantation houses through much of the South, prepared by the well-trained African-American cooks.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_and_waffles

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  28. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Truth

    Yo Truth,

    Fried chicken everywhere here, but no mac and cheese, collard greens, mashed potato or cornbread. It’s standard in Korea to eat an entire fried chicken by yourself, while drinking beer.

    Speaking of fried chicken, here’s a poem I wrote while in Italy, 17 years ago.

    Linh

    • Replies: @Truth
  29. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    From Hanoi, Chuck Searcy sent me some updates about the situation in Vietnam:

    Prime Minister: Vietnam has entered a ‘new normal’ state

    Speaking at the 73rd Session of the World Health Organization (WHO) General Assembly online for the first time in its history, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Vietnam had entered the state of “new normal” after managing the COVID-19 successfully so far, and the country is now focused on recovery and economic development, He noted that Viet Nam fights “against epidemics like fighting against the enemy” and that means mobilizing the participation of authorities at all levels, the national health system, scientists, military forces, and practicing centralized isolation and combining source control, contact tracing, testing and treatment. Vietnamese chose to accept “sacrificing short-term economic interests to protect the health and safety of the people,” the PM said, adding that the government’s anti-epidemic policies and measures have been supported by the public. To date, among Viet Nam’s nearly 100 million people, the population has experienced just over 320 infections and no deaths. Today is the 33rd day in Viet Nam to record no new cases in the community. [MORE]

    A detailed breakdown of the COVID-19 response measures as of Thursday morning, 21 May 2020, is at this link. It can be toggled in English or Vietnamese.

    Vietnam goes all out to try and save British Covid-19 patient

    VNExpress reports that Viet Nam’s heroic efforts to save the life of a British airline pilot have cost about VND 5 billion ($214,000 USD) over the past two months. The critically ill patient claims to have no relatives. The 43-year-old pilot, who works for Vietnam Airlines, was taken to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City in March after testing positive for COVID-19. He was lucid then, and told doctors that he had no relatives. The health ministry decided this week that a lung transplant was the only way to try and save the patient. The estimated cost of a lung transplant is about VND1.5-2 billion ($65,000 to 86,000), and this is addition to the VND4-5 billion ($171,000-215,000) already spent on him. The ministry has assigned the Medical Services Administration to look into legal regulations and seek funding for lung transplants. So far, 60 people have volunteered as lung donors to save the British pilot, according to the National Coordination Center for Organ Transplantation. “We are touched by their good intentions, but current regulations don’t allow us to transplant lungs donated by most living people,” a representative of the center said. [MORE]

    Vietnam ranks second globally for satisfaction with the government’s response to the COVID-19

    Vietnam ranks second globally and first among Southeast Asian countries in its people’s satisfaction with the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study of over 23 countries and territories by Singapore-based social research agency Blackbox Research and Toluna Company. Up to 94 percent of Vietnamese people felt that keeping the public informed on the pandemic with accurate information had worked in their favour in managing the disease, contributing to the country’s excellent performance in the fight against COVID-19, according to the study as reported in Vietnam Insider. David Black, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Blackbox Research, said Vietnam’s impressive score reflects the country’s swift and strict measures to clamp down on the spread of the virus, as well as its regular and transparent communication with the public on ongoing case investigations. “Vietnam’s effectiveness in curbing the spread of the virus so far has led to a heightened level of trust and confidence of citizens in their leaders, especially when we compare the country with some of its Southeast Asian neighbours who have at times struggled with testing, contact tracing and dealing with new clusters of cases,” said Black.[MORE]

  30. @Linh Dinh

    In Vietnamese:
    Cái link baochinhpu.vn đổi địa chỉ rồi, đây là link mới:

    In English:
    The link baochinhphu.vn is changed into new address, this is new link:

    http://mnews.chinhphu.vn/story.aspx?did=396005

  31. Piglet says:
    @Anonymous

    I notice from your photographs that it seems Koreans use Hangul almost exclusively for signage…

    While this is often true outside of the capital city, in Seoul itself it’s very common for store signs to use English. Roadway signs also show destinations in both Hangul and English.

    Seoul is a very international city and I suspect having signs in English is part of maintaining that image.

  32. Truth says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Sounds like somebody is missing out on a great marketing opportunity. Funny about eating the whole Fried chicken. Haven’t been to Korea in 20 years but when I was there a Korean dinner was like 700 calories.

  33. Anonymous[824] • Disclaimer says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Thanks for the explanation and additional photos, Linh. That No Name Burger place, with it’s slogan, “Why pay more? It’s good enough!” seems as if it’s emulating The Simpson’s Krusty Burger branding (•‿•)

    Blacks used to be very popular in American advertising — not in the way they are today, as fake upper middle-class whites — but as blacks, especially related to food and cooking. Uncle Ben’s Rice and Aunt Jemima baking mixes are well-known, ditto Famous Amos cookies, but apparently there were a lot of lesser-known brands and other products also promoted by blacks. I saw an ad for shoes in an old magazine being promoted by a black Pullman porter, I guess because he had a job where he was on his feet all day and would know shoe comfort and durability.

    I ran across a pre-WW2 ad for a breakfast my grandmother used to serve, sausage wrapped in a pancake and served with applesauce. My grandmother used buckwheat cakes, not pancakes. Buckwheat dough requires a starter like sour dough bread, but otherwise it was the same meal, one I’ve never seen served anywhere, so it must have fallen out of favor. It’s good, though. The Aunt Jemima ad promoted the company’s pancake mix, curiously to the modern reader by promoting a romanticized version of the Old South, riverboats and house slaves.
    It’s an odd world. Keep on chronicling it for us, Linh!

  34. klcard says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Yes it is true, here in Vung Tau there is no social distancing or mandatory mask wearing. Even temperature taking has dropped off to nothing. There is no testing at all because no one has it.

    But on the flip side my residence is in KL and I’m stuck here working in the shipyard until who knows when. That is if I want to keep my job I mean.

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