VIETNAM: Kissing for Charity Was Almost the Kiss of Death

Raising money for charity is a Samaritan thing to do, but male pop singer Dam Vinh Hung may have gone too far in his pursuit for monetary justice.

Recently, Hung kissed two monks on the lips and hands at a charity auction in Ho Chi Minh City. In order to raise funds for a sick singer, Hung was auctioning a bottle of wine and claimed that the buyer would get a kiss from him. This shameless bribery would have been effective in hindsight, if Hung was in the presence of his fans, but in the audience of serious auctioneers, the enticement was not appreciated.

Due to his display of public affection, Hung was fined 5 million đồngs, the equivalent to $240 US dollars, for “taking advantage of public events to commit improper acts or make offensive statements.” Hung also faces potential threats to his career due to public outrage that he was not punished severely enough.

While Hung deals with the spotlight, the monks that he kissed are also facing consequences. Both monks were subject to confinement for three months as punishment for receiving the kisses.

Compared to Western social norms, Hung’s actions seem minor and even normal. So to much of the rest of the world, the overreaction of Vietnamese authorities would seem — how should we put it — uncharitable?

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