BackArts & Culture » Nguyen Van Thong, Who Captured Thich Quang Duc’s Self-Immolation, Dies at 94

Nguyen Van Thong, Who Captured Thich Quang Duc’s Self-Immolation, Dies at 94

Although American photojournalist Malcolm Browne is famous for his photos capturing the historical moment in 1963, Browne wasn’t the only one at the scene with a camera.

Nguyen Van Thong, a photographer who was also a freelance journalist contributing to several newspapers in Saigon at the time, arrived at the Buddhist temple on modern-day Cao Thang Street in the morning of June 11, 1963, where 300 Buddhist monk started a protest march.

They were walking from the temple to the intersection of Phan Dinh Phung-Le Van Duyet (Nguyen Dinh Chieu-Cach Mang Thang Tam today). At 9:30am, Thich Quang Duc stepped out of a car, and the monk started the self-immolation process. 

"Managed to get through rows of monks, me and a few others, including foreign journalists, took photos," said Thong in an interview.  

Hailing from Thai Binh Province, Thong was one of the pioneer photographers in Vietnam. On September 9, Thong passed away in his home at 94, Tuoi Tre reports

Thong’s photos of Thich Quang Duc setting himself on fire received international photography awards in Finland, the UK and Sri Lanka during the period between 1964 to 1966, though they were not as widely recognized as Malcolm Browne’s.

In Vietnam, the photo was only first exhibited after April 1975. In 1990, Thong received a silver medal at the Ho Chi Minh Art Photography Festival.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]

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