The Department of Printing and Publishing has ordered a publisher to yank a book on Vietnam’s Civil Code off the shelves due to the fact that its cover features a comic actor in his underpants.
The book Civil Code 2014, published by the Lao Dong va Xa Hoi (Labor and Society) Publishing House, was banned from distribution due to its "unsuitable" cover image, the agency ruled.
The revocation was announced after the book made headlines and drew wide criticism.
It featured the face of local comic actor Cong Ly, whose name means “justice” in Vietnamese, attached to the body of a man with arms outstretched clasping a pair of scale pans.
The figure is dressed only in a loincloth and is perched on a flaming globe.
Vietnamese comic actor Cong Ly
According to the latest decision, the publishing house is responsible for pulling the books off shelves and reporting its progress to the Department of Printing and Publishing by November 21.
A publishing house representative said 1,000 copies had been printed.
Nguyen Hoang Cam, the director of the publishing house, said his firm is scrambling to recall all the copies.
He said the book was published in coordination with the Lao Dong (Labor) Bookstore and that his firm only approved the text.
“The publishing house did not approve that cover. The bookstore did not follow the approved copy,” he said.
However, he said the was ultimately responsible for having failed to carefully examine the book before it went to press.
They have already issued a public apology and asked its customers to turn in their books for compensation.
The company has also expressed its desire to meet Cong Ly to apologize and explain.
Meanwhile, Cong Ly said he wasn't aware that his image had appeared on the cover of the book until recently.
Cong Ly said the publishing house printed his picture without his consent.
"I would never have agreed to have my picture be printed on that law book," he said.
After the incident, the publishing house only called him to extend a personal apology, he said.
The comic actor said he had asked his lawyer to work with the publishing house.