Hai Phong bans Valentine's Day kissing contest

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A kissing contest scheduled for Sunday in the northern city of Hai Phong to celebrate Valentine's Day has been cancelled by local authorities who deem the event inappropriate.

The municipal cultural department said in a decision dated Friday that the contest was being banned because it would violate Vietnamese cultural values.

Media company Golden Brand, the event organizer, said on Saturday that it was completely surprised with the decision since all preparations for the contest had been made.

Do Minh Phuong, deputy director of Golden Brand, said the company only wanted to organize a "cultural activity" for the youth in the city to celebrate Valentine's Day. He said the company, however, "has to respect the opinion of the authorities."

According to the plan previously announced by the company, the "Party of Kisses" contest would select 100 couples to compete for the longest kiss. The ten winners from the competition would receive prizes worth up to VND15 million.

Public display of affection, though not illegal, is often mentioned as not being part of Vietnam's traditional customs and culture.

Nguoi Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper reported that a similar kissing contest was organized early last year in the central highlands resort town of Da Lat. It expected to attract 500 couples, but only 59 pairs turned up.

On Sunday a Valentine's "kissing party" was organized in Ho Chi Minh City with the participation of 100 couples.

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