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Vinh Moc Tunnel: Solid Foundation, Solid Vietnam History

Vinh Moc Tunnel is a small underground village which was made out of necessity during the time of war, the biggest tunnel in Vietnam which carries a lot of history worth telling to the world.

During the war period, the people of Vinh Linh, Quang Tri hid below the ground to escape from bombs and enemy soldiers. The war lasted for many years that the people learned to adapt to their new environment, even producing a total of 17 children in the underground community.

Vinh Moc Tunnel belongs to the DMZ, a tunnel complex of Vietnam in the South of China Sea. Vinh Moc in particular is situated in Vinh Linh District, made up of 60 tunnels of which Vinh Moc has the strongest foundation. It is made of dense clay which made digging into it quite simple, to the advantage of the local people during that turbulent time. Air made the clay harden, producing extra solid walls. It is two kilometres long and made up of three floors, the first of which is 13 metres beneath the ground, the second 15 metres, and the third, 23 metres. The main inner axis is 2,034 metres long, 1-1.2 metres wide, and 1.5-4.1 metres high. Small houses were built every three metres on the two side cliffs complete with kitchens and even chimneys so well-designed that they were able to emit smoke without attracting the enemy’s attention. In the middle of the tunnel are a 150-seater hall, clinics and a maternity place. It has 13 exits facing the sea and hill which also serve as ventilators to make the people breathe below.  About 6,000 cubic metres of earth had to be dug out in order to create the underground community which took two years to make. A total of 60 families lived in the tunnel which started to call it their home in the long time that they had to stay there.

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It began construction in 1966 but it really wasn’t until 1971 that it could be used. It was originally named Son Vinh Tunnels, Son meaning “mountain” and Vinh the people of Vinh Moc and Vinh Linh. It used to be a wasteland in the 1960s which was continuously attacked by the United States. But the long period of battle and the increasing loss of precious lives forced the Vietnamese soldiers to think of a way to protect the civilians. It began with a U-shape followed by an A-shape design. Aside from being a residential community, the tunnel also functioned as a bomb shelter and an entry point for supplies such as food, medicines and other necessity.

Contemporary architects and engineers marvel at the ingenuity of the Vinh Moc Tunnel. They couldn’t seem to comprehend that at a time when technology, science and construction materials were limited, the people of Vinh Linh, Quang Tri were able to create such a complex yet solid structure that stood the test of time. Clearly, this is a manifestation of truth to the timeless saying “Necessity is the mother of inventions.”

Ten years after the war, it became a popular tourist attraction for those who want to discover the richness of Vietnam’s history. As sturdy as its structure is, Vinh Moc Tunnel is a firm proof that Vietnam has a formidable culture that the rest of the world should know about. It is also a testament to the courage, wisdom and endurance of the people who made it through many years of war alive and in fact thriving.


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