Lucky Money

A lot of bad shit happens in Vietnam every day. Foreigners, regardless of whether they are in-country or not, are none-the-wiser because much of it goes uncovered by the media and unspoken by locals. Media aside, locals either don’t bat an eye since that’s what they know of as normal or keep their mouth shut on purpose. That’s how they’ve been trained to act. And, let’s be honest, even if people spoke up, hardly anyone outside of Vietnam, especially in America, care. Chamath has the right idea. None of them really matter though. Ultimately, it’s hard to help people that can’t help themselves, and, we know, the Communist Party of Vietnam isn’t going to do anything meaningful. It would have done so by now if it really wanted to rather than let lawlessness proliferate. Yes, sending money is an option but I’m sure that would be wasted. Vietnamese people would choose to spend it on raising their social status in the eyes of their peers than on something selfless. Yes, helping to raise awareness is another option but I’d strongly caution against doing so. You’d probably do more harm than good if the effort got legs. So, why is that Vietnamese guy trying to kidnap you?

Here are my top reasons, in order.


I wouldn’t doubt that there are some Vietnamese people willing to pay a premium for an organ from a half-Vietnamese child because they think it’s superior to an organ from a full-blooded Vietnamese person. It might seem hard to believe but many of these people believe in weird, voodoo type stuff and, what we would consider, old wives’ tales. They’re very superstitious. Your Vietnamese family included.

After kidnapping you, he’d probably sell you to a criminal syndicate (if he’s not already part of one) that’d hold you until your organs are ready for harvesting and/or a matching donor is found. Babies, like you, are preferred because they demand higher premiums, they’re easier to control and there’s a lower risk of depression. Those are important factors because stealing your organs is likely not a one-time event. The syndicate would sell as much of you as possible. I’m guessing that you’d fetch between $500,000 USD and $1,000,000 USD for only your heart, liver and kidneys. They’d make bank.


I’d bet that Asia has more perverted, sexually aggressive or sexually deprived men than any other continent in the world by a factor of three or more. It’s quite surprising given that pretty much every country in Asia turns a blind eye to prostitution, including Vietnam. The Communist Party of Vietnam denies that’s an issue. Time and time again, it says prostitution is illegal. But almost anyone who visits Vietnam can tell you that it’s hard to miss. Prostitutes operate on the streetside, largely as masseuses, and in hotels, restaurants and clubs/bars.

Vietnamese men will pay more for sex for a type of woman in short supply than either the women that are commonly available or at or below their social standards. Brothels charge the most for White, Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese women and the least for Vietnamese and Filipinos. Pricing is the same in China but, whereas, it’s offered on a spoken menu in Vietnam, Chinese brothels have published menus.

If he doesn’t want to kidnap you for organ harvesting than I think he’d sell you to a criminal syndicate for the purpose of prostitution that’d hold you either until there’s a high paying customer for you or thinks you’re ready to start earning money for them. Stealing you as a baby is preferred. Your caretakers would brainwash you. You would only understand life as a prostitute. Their prostitute. That would be your normal. Although the syndicate wouldn’t have a big payday, you’d provide it with consistent cash flow. Like an annuity.

The Communist Party of Vietnam could have a significant role in stopping human trafficking, including child trafficking, if it actually enforced its laws against prostitution rather than let it proliferate throughout the country, region and world, and imposed meaningful penalties. But that’s not going to happen because, ultimately, it’d affect its bankroll. Sweeping policies can be implemented for COVID-19, yet nothing is done by the Communist Party of Vietnam for things far worse. Arguably, prostitution accounts for a substantial portion of Vietnam’s labor force as sex is one of its main industries, domestic and export. I’d bet that there are more Vietnamese prostitutes in several countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore, than of any other ethnic group, including their own nationals. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been on a flight en route to Vietnam with at least a dozen Vietnamese women being “temporarily” deported.


For as many good, honest people that want to adopt a child, there are probably even more worse ones, especially in Vietnam and China. I’m sure those seeking to adopt a baby on the black market are largely part of the latter group. While I think child laundering or illegal adoption at face value is a less likely reason than my first two reasons because Vietnam, and really the entirety of Asia, is a dirty place with a bunch of dirty-minded people, it’s more plausible if forced prostitution is involved.

In grade school, the Communist Party of Vietnam taught your grandmother, mother and aunt that it’s their responsibility to take care of their parents because it’s not going to provide any free money or health services when they are older like other countries offer. Additionally, poorer and less educated Vietnamese parents, which happen to be the majority, oftentimes repeatedly tell their children during their childhood about what bad and immoral things they did to support them only to secure their future at the expense of their children’s future.

Female children adopted on the black market will likely be exploited by their adoptive parent(s) for those reasons. Some will be forced to sell their body or do other immoral acts, but others will willingly do whatever is necessary because that’s what their parent(s) did, supposedly. Family is their life. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s fuckin’ sick. Your future, sadly, would probably not be any different. You would have been bought for your future earnings potential. You’d be a slave.


He could want to kidnap you to extort us for money. If it’s the same Vietnamese guy that stole your mother’s phone then he knows how to contact us. He definitely knows where we live. Extortion is a reason but I don’t think it’s the reason. Had that been his objective before, he might have given your mother’s phone back, or at least tried to negotiate, after we offered him money.

Also, he probably knows extortion is risky. I wouldn’t want to unnecessarily expose myself to getting caught if I were a career criminal, especially when there are other lucrative options with hardly any risk.

5. EGO

If the Vietnamese guy that stole your mother’s phone never got paid for her phone, kidnapping you might be retaliation. Several virtual attempts were made to steal her Apple ID but, fortunately, she was smart enough not to click on any of them.

Using one of my old, unused phones, I clicked on one of the links just to see what would happen out of curiosity. Basically, the thief replicated the Apple ID recovery page on a non-Apple domain. Rather than closing the page, I offered him money for the phone again by sending a message using the username and password fields. Maybe that pissed him off. Good for Apple if it really built a phone that’s un-hackable by many though. I still won’t buy one for me.

Lastly …

Regardless of the primary motive, some of the proceeds from your sale would be used as lucky money. Lucky money, or lì xì in Vietnamese, is money that’s put inside of a red envelope a tad bit larger than the dimensions of a note and given as gifts to people during Tết, a week to month long celebration for the Vietnamese New Year. Symbolically, the red envelope and money are supposed to bestow them with good luck, good fortune and protection from evil spirits in the New Year. It’s a tradition that dates back to ancient times. I fuckin’ hate it.

The tradition of giving lucky money has been perverted by Vietnamese peoples’ need to use it as an opportunity to raise their social standing in the eyes their family and peers. Historically, nominal amounts of money were given as gifts to children. Now, not only has the thought of what’s nominal changed, the tradition has been expanded to include everyone, which has opened givers up to the judgements and criticisms made/thought by receivers thereby creating unnecessary year-to-year monetary obligations on the givers and expectations from the receivers. Considering the minimum wage in Vietnam is VND25,000/hr ($1.25 USD) and less in rural areas, you’d think anything more than 50,000 VND ($2.50USD) to 100,000 VND ($5.00 USD) per envelope is excessive. Think again. Some of the ungrateful bastards would laugh at anyone who gave them a nominal amount. Your mother probably gives at least 10 red envelopes every New Year.

Every time I hear someone say lucky money, my eyes roll. It irritates me. The first thought that comes to mind is, “When has money ever been lucky for you and your people?” Even though the documented poverty rate in Vietnam is less than 6%, according to the Asian Development Bank, it’s based on the percentage of the population living on less than $2.00 USD per day, which you might think makes sense on a COLA adjusted basis. Well, I don’t know of anyone, except for maybe your mother’s grandfather, that can live on $2.00 USD per day, including your mother’s poor family that literally lives in the forest in a rural part of Vietnam.

MANY families are supported by their daughter(s) working nighttime trades. Monies go unaccounted for by the Communist Party of Vietnam but get circulated into the economy. You would be surprised about how few people actually pay income taxes in this country. Your mother knows of thousands of women that support their families underground. One of them is a 23-year-old female that’s currently getting a modern, three floor house built for her and her family. She spends most of her year working the nighttime trades in Singapore. At SGD$500 per customer, she can make roughly VND$8.5 billion ($370,000 USD) tax-free on the 1,000th customer. If you think that sounds unrealistic, you’d be surprised. Those women don’t see men. They see money. Of course, they still have to pay for living expenses for what’s most likely a shared apartment with 6 to 12 other women like her.

Understanding the social pressures Vietnamese people knowingly face to uphold their reputation in the eyes of their peers coupled with their extraordinary desire to feel accepted by them, I’d bet that some of your proceeds would be given to the criminals’ families as lucky money. Some of the proceeds would also be used for Tết, in general, for the purchase of yellow apricot and/or kumquat tree(s), cookies, liquor, new clothes, more lavish foods to cook, dining out with the family, travel, temple donations, gambling, etc. Whereas, I’m opposed to receiving gifts from ill-gotten means, Vietnamese people don’t care. Most adults either know or suspect how monies were earned but few say anything. Selfishly, as long as the getting is good, they keep coming back for more while talking crap about them behind their back. A bad reputation can hang over a family for generations in towns and villages. The stupid herd mentality.

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