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Vietnamese Actor Labeled a Traitor

November 11, 2002

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Vietnamese actor Don Duong, under virtual house arrest since Vietnamese authorities labeled him a traitor, has written an impassioned letter to his sons in which he defends his work.

The actor, once one of Vietnam’s top stars, was branded a ``national traitor″ in September by Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture and Information.

Authorities seized Duong’s passport after viewing the Vietnam War film ``We Were Soldiers,″ starring Mel Gibson, and ``Green Dragon,″ about Vietnamese refugees, co-starring Patrick Swayze and Forest Whitaker.

The culture ministry has recommended that Duong be forbidden from leaving the country and banned from acting for five years, but his fate has yet to be determined.

Duong, 45, lives in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, with his two sons, ages 16 and 11.

He wrote the letter to his sons so they ``can know the truth, to affirm that I am always and forever not a traitor,″ according to the letter, which Duong’s family made available to the Los Angeles Times.

Duong’s sister, Susie Bui, who lives in the United States, received the letter and released it with his permission because he’s not been allowed to give his side of the story in the Vietnamese press, which the state owns.

Bui said police constantly monitor Duong’s home and actions, his children have been harassed, and school officials have pulled his 16-year-old son from his classroom and interrogated him.

In the letter, which the Times translated for Monday’s editions, Duong says Vietnamese officials have mistaken movies for reality.

``Only idiots who know nothing about movies would confuse Don Duong with the character Don Duong portrays,″ he writes of the Vietnamese refugee he played in ``Green Dragon.″

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