Local Legend Profile
Introducing our Local Legend, Mr Hoang Van Cuong, UPI photographer during the Vietnam war.
Mr Hoang Van Cuong’s Story
Born in the central Vietnamese town of Hue in 1949, Mr Cuong’s parents were struggling. His mother ran a small snack cart by the roadside and his father was a travelling merchant with more children than he could feed. It was wartime, times were testing and sadly Mr Cuong’s parents couldn’t support their children’s education.
Mr Cuong left his home and family behind at the age of ten for the big city of Saigon. This was a dangerous time for a young boy to be living alone on the streets and every day was about survival. Mr Cuong learnt English from tourists who wanted to help and managed to save a little money before returning home.
At 15 his father gifted him a camera, a beat-up old Honeywell Pentax, the finest gift of his life. Unknown to him at the time, this was life-changing for Mr Cuong. He describes the moment he first held the camera, understanding he was holding something incredible in his hands. He was transfixed and exhausted the first film roll in a matter of days, taking photos of anything that caught his eye.
At 18, Mr Cuong met Kyoichi Sawada, a Japanese war journalist who would later go on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography and died on the battlefields of Cambodia. Kyoichi looked at the amateur photos Mr Cuong had taken with his camera and saw huge potential in him, deciding over the next days to share with him the basics of photojournalism.
From there Mr Cuong’s life changed, his career soared. Between the years of 1966 to 1978, he worked as a UPI photographer, documenting historical moments of the war. An esteemed and critical part to play in sharing the atrocities of this momentous time, he tells of meeting countless foreign dignitaries and journalists looking for the big scoop. Despite being arrested by both sides of the Vietnamese War, Mr Cuong never doubted his role and the importance of revealing to the world what was happening in his beloved country of Vietnam.
Guests meeting Mr Cuong should expect to share a special connection with a true Local Legend. To hear stories of the war shared without bias and to marvel at the collection of his work showcasing history.
- Hear stories of the Vietnam war told from the position of a UPI photographer
- Marvel at the collection of wartime photography
- Interact with this inspiring character and take home everlasting, treasured memories
Mr Cuong says
There were many important moments witnessed during my role as a UPI photographer in the war. One of them being the moment when the Northern Vietnamese tank smashed through the gates of the Reunification Palace, signifying the end of the war. I will share with you my feeling at that time, and other stories of the privileges of documenting this important time for my beloved country.