Hallyu’ brings RoK culture closer to Vietnam

It can be said that Korean culture has been popular in Vietnam thanks to the presence of ‘Hallyu’ in the country.

In the 2000s, the term ‘Hallyu’, which literally translates to “the Korean wave”, became familiar to Vietnamese youths thanks to the popularity of RoK pop music and television dramas.

Television blockbusters such as Medical Brothers, The Autumn Heart, Glass Slippers, Winter Sonata, and Dae Jang-geum have taken a root in the memory of many Vietnamese viewers, making them among the most loved Korean dramas in Vietnam for almost 20 years.

Good characters, a romantic storyline, and a philosophy that encourages people to overcome adversity all helped viewers in Vietnam develop empathy for and a nuanced understanding of Korean culture.

From the early 2010s, the spread of the Korean wave in the Southeast Asian nation was mostly led by K-pop boy and girl groups known as idol stars, such as Big Bang, Girls’ Generation (SNSD), and Super Junior.

For the fans, Korean pop means far more than just a catchy song or a performance. It is bringing something new, authentic, and distinct to the game in a way that they can relate to intimately.

According to Dr. Park Nark Jong, former director of the Korean Cultural Centre in Vietnam, traditional cultural material is at the core of what makes Hallyu so popular.

Park showed his belief that the success of Hallyu in Vietnam can be summed up in several aspects, including the growing number of Vietnamese students in the RoK; the popularity of Korean dramas and movies, as well as Korean tourism; and the appeal of K-Beauty such as cosmetics and plastic surgery services. And thanks to the popularity of the concept of Hallyu, Vietnam and the RoK are becoming closer to each other.

Various activities held to tighten bilateral culture cooperation

In an effort to enhance the bilateral ties, a lot of cultural exchange activities have been organised in both Vietnam and the RoK over the past years, especially in 2022 as the two countries are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.

Most recently, a Vietnam-RoK Cultural, Trade and Investment Week took place in Ho Chi Minh City from October 28 to November 1, offering a wide range of cultural activities staged by artists from both countries.

It featured a performance of traditional Korean gugak music from the Jeong Ga Ak Hoe group, as well as Vietnam’s traditional music performed by the music groups Daoom and Lux.

It also presented “K-Pop Random Dance Play” performed by dance groups such as MAD-X, The Shadow, BEAmE Dance Team, G.O.D Dance Cover, The Honor Cards, and D149 CREW, together with dance performances by OneWay Crew and Fusion MC from the RoK.

Meanwhile, the 2022 Vietnam Tourism and Culture Festival was held in Seoul and Gwangju in the RoK from October 13-19. It is one of the two large-scale festivals organised abroad annually by the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to promote the country, people and tourism of Vietnam to Koreans.

In addition, the two countries’ artists are cooperating to produce a play titled “Ben khong chong” (Quay of the spinsters), the first work in a long-term project on cultural exchange between the two countries.

Meritorious Artist Nguyen Xuan Bac, Director of the Vietnam National Drama Theatre, said his theatre and the Korea Association of Performing Arts Producers (KAPAP) are joining hands to produce the play as an activity marking the Vietnamese theatre’s 70th anniversary and the 30th founding anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties.

The play, adapted from writer Duong Huong’s novel of the same name, is scripted by Vu Thi Thu Phong and directed by Meritorious Artist Lam Tung of Vietnam and Kim Min-jeong of the RoK.

The novel is about the persons in a typical Red River Delta village of Vietnam who have to struggle with backward customs and stereotypes from their clans and neighbours to move forwards.

Bac noted the cooperation in play production reflects not only the friendship but also cultural similarities between the two countries.

The first shows of “Ben khong chong” will be staged in the RoK on November 12 – 13. In Vietnam, the play and other outstanding performances of the National Drama Theatre will serve the audience on December 7 – 18, on the occasion of the theatre’s 70th anniversary, he added.