Nguyen Qui Duc: The Scandalous Critic of Vietnam

Nguyen Qui Duc holds a delicate position as an American citizen of South Vietnamese heritage with a hub for intellectuals in Hanoi. Read more about one of the characters at the forefront of Vietnam’s creative scene or click here for more of Hanoi’s fascinating characters. 

Nguyen Qui Duc is known as many things. You may have heard of him already. He’s a semi-retired scandalous journalist, art collector, and fiery critic of the government. He’s got knowledge as dense as a thesaurus and deep roots in Vietnam’s history, and he’s always happy to talk about it. 

Born in Vietnam and raised in America, Nguyen Qui Duc has a unique perspective of Vietnam and the government. He is neither a foreigner, nor conventionally Vietnamese. This means he’s able to avoid prison and deportation. As a highly knowledgeable, tenacious journalist, this position is ideal for Duc. 

 

Duc was just nine years old when the Viet Cong launched their Tet offensive. They destroyed everything he and his family knew. His father was a high-ranking civil servant in the South Vietnam government. He was taken prisoner and marched up the Ho Chi Minh trail. He would spend the next 12 years under the close watch of the Viet Cong while his mother stayed behind to look after her mentally ill sister. In 1975, as the tanks of the Viet Cong approached, Duc fled Saigon for pastures new in America.   

In 1984 Duc was reunited with his parents in California, following a youth spent living as a typical American boy, pursuing the typical American dream. He earned a B.A in TV & Radio from San Francisco State University. He went on to work as an editor and broadcaster with various TV and radio channels. These included the BBC in London and KALW in San Francisco.   

In the 1980s, as Vietnam once more opened itself to the world, Duc found himself returning as a reporter. This was Duc’s life, working as the host of the public radio show “Pacific Time,” reporting and traveling. In 2006, he packed up his apartment, sold his car, and moved to Hanoi.  

These days, Duc is the resident critic of Vietnam. Over the past few years, he has written articles such as “Whose Vietnam War?” for the New York Times. In it, he criticizes the government, suggesting it no longer has the backing of the youth. 

You’ll likely find this to be Duc’s main appeal. Hes able to tell the truth of Vietnam, without censorship. He can fill in the gaps in the country’s history and culture with the parts that the Vietnamese government don’t want people to know.   

Though you won’t be able to visit him in his modernist-inspired home in Tam Dao, which has been featured everywhere from the New York Times to Apartmento Magazine, you’ll find Duc iTadioto, his bar and gallery in Hanoi. 

Tadioto, means, “let’s take the car” and is a dry dig at the ever-increasing monopoly of cars in the Vietnamese capital. It’s stylish and chic and has become a central pillar for Hanoi’s creative and politically-conscious scene. Duc has become as the driving force behind it and will happily be your guide. 

Hien Truong

Hi, my name is Hien. I’m managing director of Sisters Tours, Vietnam’s bespoke B2B agency. I’m also president of Vietnam’s only sustainable travel association: the Responsible Travel Club (RTC). Do you have questions? Send me an email at hien@sisterstoursvn.com and let’s get the conversation started.

Hien Truong

Hi, my name is Hien. I’m managing director of Sisters Tours, Vietnam’s bespoke B2B agency. I’m also president of Vietnam’s only sustainable travel association: the Responsible Travel Club (RTC). Do you have questions? Send me an email at hien@sisterstoursvn.com and let’s get the conversation started.

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