Archive for the Did You Know? Category

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, is of Vietnamese Origin

Posted in Did You Know?, Politics with tags , on January 6, 2016 by Ian Pham

Ban Ki-moonImage via TEIMUN

I’ve been waiting to write this for a while, but have been hesitating because the majority of the sources available on this story came from Vietnamese government-run news outlets. I didn’t disbelieve the story, but I wanted to find some sources other than VCP websites, along with those available sources, to cover the story.

Well, there’s BBC, which is alright, and I’ve waited long enough to see that there are no disputes against the information put out there by Vietnam’s government news sites. So now, it’s fair enough for me to go on covering this story with confidence that it isn’t some propaganda bullshit or idiotic hoax. It’s true, and it’s spectacular. Ban Ki-moon, the South Korean, and the current Secretary General of the United Nations, is of Vietnamese origin.

This interesting piece of news was revealed during the U.N. Secretary’s visit to Hanoi in May of 2015, but was kept quiet until late October of 2015. During his stay in Vietnam, Ban Ki-moon paid a special visit to the Phan Huy residence in Vietnam’s capital city. While there, the U.N. chief burned some commemorative incense at the family shrine, before penning a note in the family record book. In the note, he thanks the Phan Huy family for preserving the shrine, and states that he himself hails from the Phan ancestral line. He concludes his note by promising to try and carry on the teachings of his ancestors.

From the Vietnamese state-run Thanh Nien News, here is Mr. Ban’s message:

“I am deeply humbled to visit and pay my deep respect to this house of worship of Phan Huy Chu [which he wrote in Sino-Vietnamese] and other [Phan] family members.”

“Thank you for preserving this house of worship.”

“As one of the [Phan] family, now serving as Secretary General of UN, I commit myself that I will try to follow the teachings of ancestors.”

Here’s the photo via the same source, and includes the translation from English written by Ban, to Vietnamese:

Ban Ki-moon's Message

And here is a picture, via the same source, of the U.N. chairman with the Phan Huy family during his visit in May:

Ban Ki-moon photo with Phan family

Pretty neat news. And apparently, Ban Ki-Moon’s Vietnamese name is Phan Co Van. Also pretty cool.

In visiting the Phan Huy family shrine, and in penning that message in his own words to declare that he is of Vietnamese ancestry, it is fair to assert here that the U.N. Secretary General has Vietnamese roots.

Well, there you have it. Ban Ki-moon has Vietnamese ancestors, and hails from the Phan family. He is the chief of the United Nations, an international organization, he does work that benefits mankind and humanity, and he has Vietnamese roots. I’d say that this is some nice news.

Sources:

BBC, Thanh Nien News, Tuoi Tre News

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Rice to the Refugees: The Untold Act of President Ngo Dinh Diem

Posted in Did You Know?, IV. Columns, Modern History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2014 by Ian Pham

President Ngo Dinh DiemHere’s something a lot of you probably didn’t know about President Ngo Dinh Diem. During his time in office, the South Vietnamese President contributed a substantial amount of humanitarian aid in the form of rice to Tibetan Buddhist refugees in the late 1950s-early 1960s. It was then that many Tibetans were exiled from their homeland by the invading forces of the People’s Republic of China, led by the iron fist of the ruthless Mao Zedong.

In the year 1950, with the consolidation of the PRC, Mao Zedong officially pointed his guns towards Tibet, sending the People’s Liberation Army across the border into Tibetan land. Throughout the 1950s, through false treaties and suppressive military force, China would gain control over all of Tibet, turning that part of East Asia into another region under Chinese control. The invasion would be complete by 1959, with the outbreak and bloody suppression of the Tibetan Uprising.

Many, many Tibetans were expelled from their homeland during this time and sought asylum in other nations around the world. The young Dalai Lama and many tens of thousands of other Tibetans would escape to India through the Himalayas, becoming refugees in the process. In reaction to their plight, many nations around the world held out a helping hand to the Tibetan refugees. One of these nations was none other than the Republic of Vietnam (aka South Vietnam), under the presidency of Mr. Ngo Dinh Diem.

According to an old issue of the Chicago Tribune (December 11, 1959), President Diem offered to supply the Tibetan refugees with “surplus rice for a year.” Though the sources are currently sparse for this topic, at least for me, it can be asserted that part of the rice offered by President Diem amounts to 200 tons, as illuminated in the Indian Parliament’s “Rajya Sabha Debates, 1952-2005,” published by the Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre (2006: 71). However, further examination suggests that the total volume of rice donated by South Vietnam is much more than that.

An article by Tran Trung Dao (August 30, 2014) on Dan Chim Viet online further elaborates on the subject. According to Dao, President Diem donated rice to the Tibetan Buddhist refugees through the Government of India not only once, but twice. Dao’s source declares that the amount of rice sent to India from South Vietnam during these two times accumulated to a grand total of 1,500 tons. In addition to the 200 tons of rice provided by South Vietnam in the one donation, another shipment of 1,300 tons was sent to India to feed the Tibetan Buddhist refugees. Given the evidence, it can thus be asserted that South Vietnam under President Diem played a substantial role in the support of Tibetan refugees in India.

This humanitarian act was not widely covered during the time that it happened. Moreover, it was overshadowed by the dirty politics of its day, ignored by the biased media of the west, and eventually lost under the many pages of history.

In writing this article, I wanted to share with you something you may not have known about the First President of South Vietnam. I also wanted to leave you all with something warm and uplifting to hold onto on this day of his commemoration. Furthermore, this act of charity and kindness is a great, yet sadly forgotten story that should be shared with anyone who is interested and wants to know. I’m only doing my part in making that happen.

Today is the anniversary of President Ngo Dinh Diem’s assassination at the hands of a group of treasonous South Vietnam generals, acting under the direction and encouragement of Henry Cabot Lodge and the Kennedy Administration.

President Diem lost his life on November 2, 1963.

For his services to the nation of South Vietnam, and as we’ve learned, for other peoples of the world at large, he will always be remembered.

The Rescue of 1975, America’s Untold Accomplishment

Posted in Did You Know?, Modern History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2010 by Ian Pham

When South Vietnam fell to the Communist forces of North Vietnam on April 30, 1975, a wave of Vietnamese citizens fled the country in order to avoid persecution by the new regime.  The former South Vietnamese Navy, with the help of the Americans, would succeed in saving an estimated 30,000 Vietnamese refugees.  This accomplishment would go unrecognized for nearly thirty-five years.  The American soldiers didn’t regard the rescue as anything significant, viewing their rescue as just part of their duty.

The USS Kirk, an American military vessel, encountered the Vietnamese refugees on and around Con Son Island, immediately providing them with food, water, shelter, and medical assistance.  The USS Kirk then led the Vietnamese naval vessels, fishing boats, and cargo ships, filled with refugees, to safety, meeting up with other US Navy ships.  As a result of their efforts, approximately 30,000 Vietnamese refugees were taken to safety in the Philippines and out of the Communists’ reach.

It is only recently that this great humanitarian accomplishment became largely recognized.  Since America held a feeling of bitterness towards Vietnam after the tragic conclusion of the war, the public was not interested in the happenings in that general area.  Also, the soldiers themselves never considered what they did to be anything extraordinary, so the story was never widely publicized.  Today, rising interests in humanitarian work have prompted journalists and investigators to explore the American feat in Vietnam, so the story of this great rescue is finally known to the world.

South Korea’s Syngman Rhee: A Descendent of the Ly Dynasty

Posted in Did You Know?, Dynastic History, Modern History, Politics with tags , , , , on October 12, 2010 by Ian Pham

Depending on your knowledge of this particular subject, this may or may not come as a shock to you.  Personally, I was quite surprised when I heard about this.  Syngman Rhee, the first president of the Republic of Korea, is actually a Vietnamese descendent.  Rhee himself declared that he was of Vietnamese ancestry, tracing his origins all the way back to the royal Ly family.

How did the Ly land in Korea anyway?  In the 13th century, princess Ly Chieu Hoang abdicated the throne in favor of her husband, Tran Canh, marking the end of the Ly and the rise of the Tran Dynasty.  Many members of the Ly royal family disapproved, deeply resenting the Tran’s actions afterword.  Tran Thu Do, the man behind the Ly’s toppling, feared of rebellion.  Therefore, he decided to purge the entire Ly family. 

As a result, thousands of Vietnamese people were put to death.  Anyone bearing the name of Ly was hunted down and executed by the Tran.  In order to save his people, prince Ly Long Tuong gathered the remaining  members of the Ly and fled to Korea.  This courageous act salvaged the lives of several thousand Vietnamese people, who would later become proud members of the Korean nation.  One of these proud individuals would be none other than Syngman Rhee, the First President of South Korea.

In the 1950-60’s, Syngman Rhee contacted President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, seeking help in finding the origins of his ancestors.  President Diem accepted, assigning one of his ministers to assist President Rhee on his search for spiritual truth.  Unfortunately, since the tombs of the Ly family were located in North Vietnam, the proof of President Rhee’s ancestry could only be verified later on, after the death of Diem.

The fact is clear now: thousands of Korean citizens are actually of Vietnamese origin, the descendents of the Ly family.  Many Koreans, like Rhee Syngman, are very proud of their Vietnamese ancestry.  Every year, Vietnam enjoys visits by many Korean tourists, there to visit the shrine of their Vietnamese ancestors.  These people are the proud citizens of Korea, but they have never forgotten their Vietnamese beginnings.

The Origin of Nôm Writing

Posted in Ancient History, Art, Did You Know? with tags , , , , on September 25, 2010 by Ian Pham

In the late 18th century, the Tay Son Dynasty (1788-1802), under Nguyen Hue Quang Trung, switched the national writing system from Han-Nho (Chinese characters) to the more Vietnamese writing of Nôm (Vietnamese characters).  As part of their sweeping educational reforms, many literature previously written in Chinese were translated into Nôm characters.  What were Nôm characters, and where did they come from exactly?

Primitive Nôm Writing of the Bach Viet (Bai Yue) civilization.

The origin of Nôm writing stretches all the way back to the farmers of Bach Viet (Bai Yue), five thousand years ago.  Back then, the writing was already known as Nôm, part of Viet-Nho, an ancient philosophy native to the people of the south.  However, the nomadic tribes eventually picked up on these writings, altering it over time, and is what people know as Chinese writing today.

Han-Nho writing adapted by the Chinese, is it derived from ancient Nôm?

This fact has also been buried for a long period of time.  Only recently, as part of a wider range of contemporary Viet studies, has these findings become more clear.  To anyone who has studied Chinese history, you probably heard that the origin of Chinese writing came from the ancient Shang Dynasty.  You’ve probably also been told that the Chinese writing simply came out of nowhere, possibly from dragon bones, and was quickly adapted by the Chinese.  However, this is in-fact a myth that has finally been proven false.

Modern or “restored” Nôm writing under the Tay Son Dynasty.

21st century research has clarified that the Shang Dynasty was actually a nomadic tribe that preceded the Zhou.  They were not agricultural, nor were they in any way a settled people.  During the Shang’s existence, the Viet were an independent people not under any type of control to the Chinese Shang.  The Viet were an agricultural people with their own way of life, culture, and government.  These agricultural people had their own philosophy and primitive writing system known as Viet-Nho and Nôm, respectively.  Ancient Nôm is the parent of imperial China’s Han-Nho, as well as the Nôm of modern imperial Vietnam.

Source:

Đõ, Thành (2010). NGUỒN GỐC CHỮ NÔM. Retrieved from: http://www.anviettoancau.net/anviettc/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2135&Itemid=99999999

Le Thanh Hoa, Du Mien.  Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization. Trans. Joseph M. Vo.  San Jose: The Vietnam Library Publications, 2010.

Wright, David. The History of China. Connecticut, London: Greenwood Press. 2001.

La Dalat Motors: A Symbol of Prosperity

Posted in Did You Know?, Economics, Modern History with tags , , , on September 12, 2010 by Ian Pham

For anyone who has doubted the capabilities of the Republic of Vietnam and its leaders, just take a look at one of their many accomplishments within the 20 years of their existence.  La Dalat Motors, an automobile company that was established during the presidency of Ngo Dinh Diem.  That’s right!  During the Vietnam War, the Republic of Vietnam was already developing its own cars!

For verification, please look down!

Even in wartime, the Republic of Vietnam was well on its way to becoming a developed nation with a strong economy.  This motor company is just one example of South Vietnam’s sophistication and potential.  Sadly, all of this talent would be completely and utterly erased in 1975, when the Communists take over the country.  Since then, Vietnam descended from a Southeast Asian powerhouse to an underdeveloped country with a weak economy and an extremely poor quality of life.

It was the 1960’s and Vietnam developed automobiles.  It is now 2010, and what does the country have?  I think it’s fairly obvious what went wrong here: the idiocy of the Communist ideology, the corrupted and cowardly dogs born into the height of this broken system, and the idiots in the west who supported the fathers of this hated regime.

This is for anyone who took sides with the Communists in the past, supporting Ho Chi Minh, and discrediting the South with false information and biased rationalities.  For anyone who ever said that the South never developed anything, calling them corrupted people who just squandered American money, I got two simple words for you: La Dalat.

Nguyễn An: The Man Who Built the Forbidden City

Posted in Did You Know?, Dynastic History with tags , , , , , on September 8, 2010 by Ian Pham

During the Ming Dynasty’s invasion of Vietnam in 1407, many Vietnamese professionals, such as poets, military experts, architects, engineers, etc., were captured and brought back to China.  Among them was a prisoner named Nguyễn An (Juan An in Chinese), a man who would later design and oversee the construction of the Peking Citadel and the entire Forbidden City of Beijing.

Before being shipped to China, Nguyễn An was a talented official under the rule of the Trần Dynasty.  However, he was later taken by the Ming Dynasty and brought back to China as a gift from the illegitimate Hồ Dynasty.  From then on, he would be known in Chinese history as Juan An, a eunuch of the Ming’s imperial court.

For his talents, Nguyễn An was given the task of constructing the Peking Citadel and the Forbidden City of Peking (Beijing).  The size of his workforce was literally in the millions, composing of soldiers, workers, and prisoners.  Interestingly, a large number of the laborers who worked on the Peking Citadel were also Vietnamese, captured by the Ming on their invasions.

The fact that Juan An (Nguyễn An) was really a Vietnamese person had been obscured in Chinese history for centuries.  It is only recently, with long and intricate research, did these facts began to surface.  Research made by the University of Cambridge clearly states that “the chief architect was an Annamese eunuch named Juan An (d. 1453) who also played a major role in rebuilding Peking,” (Mote & Twitchett, 1988: 241).  Annam is what Vietnam was referred to by the Chinese during this period, even though that was never our official name.  Woo!  That was interesting.  Maybe next week I’ll tell you who really invented the cannon!

Source:

Le Thanh Hoa, Du Mien.  Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization. Trans. Joseph M. Vo.  San Jose: The Vietnam Library Publications, 2010.

Mote, Frederick W. & Denis Twitchett.  The Cambridge History of China, Volume 7, Part 1. Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1988.

*****

Correction: A typo indicating that the source by Frederick Mote and Denis Twitchett was published in 1998 has been fixed to its correct publication year, which was 1988. Sorry for any misunderstandings or confusion this may have caused.