The man picking up corpses on the Red River

Unique Story: The Man Picking Up Corpses on the Red River (Hanoi) for 30 Years

The man picking up corpses on the Red River has a rather ferocious appearance but is very gentle. Never judge a book by its cover!


The man picking up corpses on the Red River has a rather ferocious appearance but is very gentle. Never judge a book by its cover!

Nguyen Van Dung only did not collect the money, but he also spent money to bury anonymous people.

He is 46 years old this year and to many, he is known to be “crazy”. For 30 years, he has been  picking up corpses on the Red River without receiving any penny. And yet, he offers burial money for the ill-fated corpses.

To date, Dung has picked up a total of 501 victims.

From an early age, Dung was famous for being the best swimmer in the region. Many times, he followed his father, commune police, to collect corpses, so he was not afraid when he saw corpses.

“During a buffalo shepherd in the riverbank, finding two corpses lying on the water, I rushed into the river and pulled them up the bank. I waited until no one came to receive it, I brought them back, dug the grave to bury by myself. That year I was 13 years old. The karma of collecting human bodies started from there”, Dung recalled.

Over the years, this man could not remember how many corpses he had collected. Illiterate, each time he was able to bring a body on the shore, Dung took a brick to mark a horizontal line on the pillar of the house.

The pillar of the house is covered with horizontal lines. When the pillar ran out of space, he put a checkmark in the notebook.

Since associating with the career of collecting corpses, Mr. Dung was assigned by Nhat Tan ward to protect the crops of people along the Red River stretching more than two km, so he was able to collect more bodies.

To pull the floating body to the shore, Mr. Dung had to use a mat to bundle it, then tie the ends and slowly pull it up.

When he was still unfortunate, he only gave them a mat and took them to bury. “Come to think of it, I feel pity for those who, when dead, don’t have some good clothing and can only be covered in a blanket.

Later, with the help of the government, they had money to buy coffins and build proper tombs, they would be assured in the ‘golden springs’ (heaven)”- Mr. Dung confided.

Many times, being asked by relatives of the victim to find the body, Mr. Dung left his housework to help. After this, they sent money as a way of giving thanks, someone even donated up to 50 million VND, however, he didn’t get even a single penny because to him, it was a merciful thing to do.

But if he is offered with cigarettes and tea, he is more than happy to accept.

“That guy is also strange, spends his own money to find corpses, then sells pigs and chickens to buy coffins and build graves for the dead. If he save money from burial times, he now can have hundreds of millions ”, one neighbor said.

Dung “crazy” has a very strange feeling, whenever he feels like going to the river, there is a floating corpse.

So he was afraid whenever that feeling came, afraid that the graveyard would grow larger by the day because of a new tomb. After many Nhat Tan cherry blossom seasons, Dung “crazy” just hopes there will be no more dead bodies on the river.

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