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Popular Vietnamese Song Again Permitted in Public

Vietnam’s government lifted the ban on a popular anti-war song after just one day of public outcry.

On April 11, Vietnam’s Department of Performing Arts announced that the song “Nối Vòng Tay Lớn” or “The Great Circle of Vietnam” could no longer be broadcast or played in public.

The song was written by Trịnh Công Sơn more than 40 years ago. It is about wishing all the people of Vietnam could hold hands in a circle large enough to cover the whole country.

This is Khánh Ly singing the song.

Trịnh wrote hundreds of songs, but this song may have been the most popular. During the war, the song became a call for the North and South of Vietnam to reunite. On the day Saigon fell in 1975, Trịnh sang the song live from the official radio station.

After the war, Trịnh spent several years in a “re-education” camp in Vietnam. He died on April 1, 2001. But his songs remain popular throughout Vietnam and the global Vietnamese community. He has often been compared to American songwriter Bob Dylan.

Nguyen Dang Chuong is head of the Department of Performing Arts in Vietnam. He explained the ban to local media. “Even though ‘The Great Circle of Vietnam’ is very popular and has been played in many meetings and entertainment programs, in fact, everyone sings it without permission.”

The ban came soon after the government had banned five other love songs popular in the South during the war. But banning “The Great Circle of Vietnam” may have been a step too far, judging by the large protests on social media.

Trinh’s sister, singer Trinh Vinh Trinh, told the local media the family was surprised at the government’s response. The family also requested to play the song as a tribute at the Huế College of Medicine and Pharmacy later this month.

Phu Quang is a Vietnamese songwriter. Many of his songs are about love and the city of Hanoi. He told VOA that he didn’t understand why the song was banned. He said, “there is a power stronger than the law – the people. Anything [the government does] that is unreasonable, they will not let it stand.”

On April 12, Vietnamese media reported that Nguyen lifted the ban because the song has “good content.”

I’m Dorothy Gundy.

Khánh An reported on this story for VOA Vietnamese and VOANews.com. Dorothy Gundy adapted this story for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

outcry – n. an expression of strong anger or disapproval by many people : a reaction showing that people are angry or unhappy about something

global adj. involving the entire world

entertainment n. amusement or pleasure that comes from watching a performer, playing a game, etc.

responsen. something that is said or written as a reply to something​

tributen. something that you say, give, or do to show respect or affection for someone

content n. the ideas, facts, or images that are in a book, article, speech,…

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