Censor's slip causes uproar around MasterChef Vietnam

By Hien Nhi, Thanh Nien News

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Still image of the Vietnam Master Chef reality show broadcast nationwide on September 20, during which contestant Khanh Phuong beheaded a turtle.. Still image of the Vietnam Master Chef reality show broadcast nationwide on September 20, during which contestant Khanh Phuong beheaded a turtle..

A high-ranking Vietnamese television official said that footage of an angry reality show contestant beheading a soft-shelled turtle was broadcast nationally on Saturday due to “a mistake in censorship.”

Lai Van Sam, head of the Sports, Entertainment and Business desk at VTV3 said on Tuesday that "allowing such a violent scene to air was an accident”.

“We are responsible for that mistake. Sometimes, [we have to] watch too many programs a day and only inattention [causes us to] miss such scenes. [We] stood there stupefied after [it was] broadcast,” said Sam of the close-up shot from the latest episode of the cooking reality show MasterChef Vietnam.

The contestants were challenged to prepare a meal using live animals, including two kinds of fish and a turtle.

Khanh Phuong, a young female cook, had difficulties dealing with her task.

She was filmed making several unsuccessful attempts to turn the turtle upside down and draw it's battered head from its shell.

Finally, the impatient girl used a big knife to chop it clean off.

The violent series of events was broadcast nationally before millions of viewers.


Hundreds of viewers later called, wrote and posted complaints about the show online.  

“Such images are inappropriate for television,” Thanh Lam, a viewer in Ho Chi Minh City told Tuoi Tre.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thao, another viewer from the southern metro said she decided to “never watch MasterChef Vietnam again."

“Although we have to cook and kill a fish or a chicken or shrimp every day…, but it’s a private thing done at home. This is a television show, how could they allow such images to be shown?” 

Many other viewers also pledged on their social media accounts to turn their back on the show “forever”.

“What happens if my little son sees the beheading scene and thinks it’s okay to pick up a knife, and cut off the head of his little dog, or any other living things?” asked a young mother on her Facebook account.

Others said that the scene should have been blurred out rather than shot close-up.

The dish prepared from turtle meat by contestant Khanh Phuong at a MasterChef Vietnam cooking show, which was broadcast on September 20, 2014.
Contestant Khanh Phuong said she was so embarrassed when viewing that scene as the way she killed the turtle “was very cruel”.

“I could not sleep well since I killed that animal.”

However, one member of the jury who was keeping his eyes on the MasterChef contestants, said that the reality show should respect whatever happened during the contest.

“The image was related to, and is a part of the story,” said chef Tuan Hai, a member of the show's jury.

“Dealing with live animals involves situations that every cook must overcome. Watching such scenes, viewers can find out more about the candidate’s character,” said Hai.

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