Hà Nội lived the summit moment

March 01, 2019 - 11:00

Although the second DPRK - US Summit did not meet expectation, Hà Nội people lived days they would never forget. 

Smartphones raised to capture the pair’s arrival. — VNS Photo Khoa Thư
Viet Nam News

by Khoa Thư - Khánh Dương 

HÀ NỘI — Alain Chevalier from Switzerland went to the Vietnam Stamp Company’s headquarters on Hà Nội’s Trần Hưng Đạo Street four times in just a day.

Eager to buy one of the 300 silver coins minted to celebrate the summit between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the US, he showed up early on Wednesday morning, finding a long queue.

Having lived and worked as a senior technical advisor at Ministry of Industry and Trade for more than two decades, Chevalier saw the event as a unique opportunity for Việt Nam to showcase its friendliness and achievements.

“The country is a very good location for the summit,” he said.

“After the terrible war with the US in the last century, it is surprising that you were able to turn the page, become friends and start thriving.

 “Forgive but not forget”, Chevalier recalled the Vietnamese proverb his friend said long time ago to describe his expectations of the second US President Trump – Chairman of the DPRK Kim Jong Un summit.

“I think with the facilitation and support of the Vietnamese Government, both sides can learn to turn the page, sustainably grow and become friends again,” he added.

Phượng anh Thuý choose to wear her áo dài for the special event. — VNS Photo Khoa Thư

Nguyễn Tiến Đạt, 67, who has collected stamps for 60 years, said products marking high-profile events in Việt Nam were invaluable for collectors.

“The summit is the most special event Việt Nam has ever hosted. The stamp released on the occasion conveys the hope of peace for the two opposite countries to escape past tragedies.”

Some 900m away from Chevalier and his fellow collectors were sat, expecting to get their coins by 5pm, on Ngô Quyền Street, thousands of people gathered around the Metropole Hà Nội Hotel, waiting to get a glimpse of the two leaders.

Dressed in an áo dài, the national dress of Việt Nam, Nguyễn Thị Phượng from Ba Đình District and her friend, Vũ Thị Thuý, said they had stood there since 4.30 pm, more than an hour ahead of the meeting time.

“I chose áo dài to join the march with others, welcoming President Trump and Chairman Kim,” Phượng said while holding the barrier tightly as people pushed behind her.

“Having been through two wars, we appreciate the value of peace and expect a satisfying outcome for both,” Thuý added.

Standing next to the pair was a Vietnamese girl wearing Korea’s traditional hanbok. Munching a snack, she looked around with excitement.

Đặng Văn Chuyên, the girl’s father, wanted to express something deep.

“There is the similarity between the history of Việt Nam and the Korean Peninsula. I hope a brighter future can be open for North Korean people following the summit,” Chuyên said.

Harmony is expressed via Chuyên’s choice of outfit for his daughter. — VNS Photo Khoa Thư

Hà Nội has welcomed nearly 3,000 reporters and a record number of foreign tourists this month. Many Hà Nội citizens have contributed to the major event with small actions, showing how friendly local people are as ambassadors of Hanoian hospitality.

For the last few days a mall tea shop located opposite the Melia Hotel where Chairman Kim has stayed has been full of customers, mostly local and foreign correspondents waiting day and night to cover the event.

Trần Quang Thước, owner of the shop, decided to offer reporters free iced tea “as a way to support them, hoping that will do a good job,” he said.

Vũ Văn Nguyên, a motorbike taxi driver around the Melia Hotel area, said that he was thrilled to take reporters to their destinations.

Motorbike taxis are a perfect choice for many foreign reporters around on Hà Nội’s narrow and crowded streets. “Street blocks are not annoyance to people living around the area. We feel proud to make the event run smoothly,” he said.

As the sirens started blaring, the crowd pushed forward.

Thousands of smartphones were raised in an effort to record the two leaders’ arrival, six months after the historic event in Singapore.

Unfortunately, President Trump and Chairman Kim chose another way to enter the Metropole Hotel.

A quiet corner at Vietnam Stamp Company where people wait to get their special coins and stamps. — VNS Photo Khoa Thư

Signs of disappointment swept through people’s faces.

“At least we saw the Beast,” someone said and the crowd burst into laughter.

Less than 24 hours after, the meeting was cut short without any joint agreement.

President Trump flew back to the US, and told the press conference before departure: “Sometimes you have to walk. This was just one of those times."

We don’t know whether Chevalier got the coin he registered for on Wednesday afternoon, but we do know he has patience, something President Trump and Chairman Kim may need if they ever truly hope to reach an agreement.

“All I can do is wait, wait, wait. After 25 years living in Việt Nam, I have learned that patience is the key,” he said.

“And good things may come later.” — VNS