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Gangnam craze dances into autumn

Update: September, 17/2013 - 09:25

The Gangnam presence can be felt as the mid-autumn festival draws near. Masks, including black glasses and glossy wigs based on the quirky South Korean star Psy are being sold in many shops on Ha Noi's Luong Van Can and Hang Ma Streets. Kids immediately recognise the Korean Youtube star.

Psy toys are also as popular as the traditional five-pointed star lanterns, which have been with Vietnamese kids for countless generations. For a Psy doll that can sing, parents pay from VND260,000-315,000 each (US$12-$15). A plastic Psy mask can be bought for VND40,000-60,000 each ($2-$3).

At the same time, some toy-shop owners claim the traditional toys are losing out because kids feel the designs have not changed for many years. The mid-autumn festival is perhaps the most famous holiday for kids in Viet Nam and other East Asian countries. But it now has to compete with more Western-style holidays such as Christmas and Halloween.

It's an inevitable part of integration. Our kids are smart. They know what is appealing even if things are constantly changing. So let the oppa sing.

The super rich get super richer

A recent report released by consulting firm Wealth-X (Singapore) and UBS Bank (Switzerland) suggested that Viet Nam now ranks second in Southeast Asia for its growing numbers of the super-rich people.

According to the two experts, super rich people are those who can lay their hands on US$30 million or more. The number of Vietnamese in this class people is said to be 195 and they own property valued a total of $20 billion. A year earlier Viet Nam had 170 super-rich individuals with total assets of $19 billion. This means an increase of 14.7 per cent.

The wealth calculators said Southeast Asia continues to produce super-rich people thanks to soaring domestic consumption. The Wall Street Journal said that markets such as Viet Nam and Myanmar are the most promising places for private banking services, with a steady increase in middle-class consumers.

It's a surprising result for a country with a $50 minimum monthly wage. But is it good news to have so many super-rich, considering the vast numbers considered to be poor, tens of millions at last count? While we, the normal folk, complain about the struggle to pay our soaring bills, including higher and higher prices for food and petrol, there are apparently many others who are riding the crest of the wave.

One thing is for sure, Viet Nam is not falling behind other nations in the region in terms of the widening gap between rich and poor!

Who killed the dog nappers?

In August, two suspected dog thieves in Danh Thang Commune in the Hiep Hoa District of Bac Giang Province, were hounded by an angry mob of local residents. The two died later from injuries received when they were caught.

Early this month, when Bac Giang Police prosecuted seven of the pursuers for the alleged killings, hundreds of people in Danh Thang village claimed that they were also involved. The media reported that the villagers said that prosecuting only seven people was an injustice.

A police official admitted that even though the case had been transferred to provincial police, it would still be very difficult to prosecute hundreds of people for the crime - and even harder to find sufficient evidence. He said the villagers had extra reasons to vent their anger.

Apparently, only those who steal goods worth more than VND2million ($95) can be charged. This opens a wide door of opportunity for any would-be dog nappers. Regardless, the unforeseen unity of the villagers has caused a fearsome headache for authorities. — VNS

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