HANOI — In a surprising turn of events in US- Vietnam relations, Washington’s top envoy in Hanoi has released a rap video on the occasion of the Lunar New Year.
“Time for introductions are at hand. Hi, my name is Dan. I’m from Nebraska, I’m not a big city boy. Then three years ago, I moved to Hanoi,” Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink sings in the video with famous Vietnamese rapper Wowy by his side as he busts out rhymes.
Responses to the video on social media ranged from calling it “cute” to “an insult to Vietnamese culture.” Yet it appeared to be generally well-received.
In the video, Kritenbrink, who took up the post in 2017, offers his well-wishes to families across the South-East Asian nation as they prepare for Lunar New Year celebrations.
Known as Tet in Vietnam, the Lunar New Year, which begins Friday, is easily the nation’s most important festival of the year. The event sees families come together to feast, drink and share li xi (lucky money) with kids.
Kritenbrink raps about Vietnamese New Year traditions like cleaning the house and sharing the lucky money, but ends with a reference to diplomatic ties between the two former foes: “US and Vietnam, from now to forever. We’re trusted partners, prospering together.”
Thu Le Huong, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, says the fact that Kritenbrink felt comfortable enough to break out of conventional ‘protocol’ style diplomacy discussions on trade or politics speaks volumes about the relationship between the two nations, which only re-established diplomatic relations in 1995, twenty years after the end of the Vietnam War.
In the song’s final line, Kritenbrink says Happy New Year in Vietnamese, then adds: “from your boi in Hanoi!”
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