Korean Community In Ho Chi Minh City

Danh mục tin tức

April 05, 2016

  • Korean Community In Ho Chi Minh City




    In 2011, according to statistics of South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, they numbered roughly eighty thousand Korean in Vietnam, making them the second-largest Korean diaspora community in Southeast Asia, after the Korean community in the Philippines, and the tenth-largest in the world. A more recent estimate from Vietnam Television (VTV) says their population might be as large as 130,000.


    Ho Chi Minh City is considered as one of the top city when it comes to the number of Korean. The South Korean consulate says its citizens began flocking to HCMC and its neighboring localities prior to 1992 when Vietnam and South Korea established official diplomatic relations. Nowadays, there are about 70,000 to 80,000 Korean expats living in southern Vietnam, mostly in HCMC.


    The first Koreatown in HCMC began forming on Pham Van Hai Street in Tan Binh District around 1994, along with smaller towns such as Super Bowl and K300, also in Tan Binh District.



    Phu My Hung Urban Area


    But, in recent years, more and more Korean nationals have moved to Phu My Hung in District 7, making it the largest Koreatown in the city with an estimated population of up to 20,000, according to the consulate.


    Tan Son Hoa Street behind the busy Pham Van Hai wet market in HCMC, Tan Binh District still has traces of what used to be a crowded South Korean village.


    Some Korean restaurants and hair and beauty salons with signboards written in both South Korean and Vietnamese are still open although the number of Korean households there has fallen from almost a hundred to several, according to local people. What is claimed to be the first Korean street in HCMC has now become quiet with fewer Koreans was seen.


    But what is happening to this market does not mean Korean people have left the city for good. They have moved to other parts of the city to form even bigger communities. The Korean population in the city is now nearly 90,000, according to data from the HCMC Vietnam – Korea Friendship Association.


    Two among the new places inhabited by the Koreans are the “Super Bowl” area, also in Tan Binh District, and the Sky Garden area in Phu My Hung urban area in District 7.


    The Super Bowl area has such a name since Koreans live along the entire Hau Giang Street next to Super Bowl Vietnam - Tan Son Nhat entertainment center.


    The Korean community on this street appears to be livelier. The street is lined with Korean restaurants owned by Korean people. Apart from restaurants, visitors to the Super Bowl area can find stores selling different kinds of food brought from Korea such as Maxim coffee, Barley tea, Soju wine, Hite beer, canned food, soy sauce, vinegar, snack and instant noodle.


    Yuan Yu Feng, the owner of a Korean food store on Hau Giang Street, says: “Korean stores and marts on Hau Giang Street also supply Korean foodstuffs for Korean retail stores, restaurants, and families in other parts of HCMC.”


    It seems like the greetings “annyeong-haseyo” (hello) or “eoseo oseyo” (please come in) can be heard from every corner when visitors enter a restaurant or store there.


    Huong, a waitress at Cay Mit restaurant, which is owned and run by a Korea man, says most customers of the restaurant are Koreans. She says Korean people living on Hau Giang Street prefer traditional Korean food to Vietnamese food and that Korean restaurants in the area serve more genuine Korean foods than other Korean restaurants around the city.


    For entertainment and services, Super Bowl area provides different types of activities for Koreans such as billiard, karaoke, massage, and coffee. Shops have signs written in both Vietnamese and Korean.


    Kim Seong Deok, the owner of Jal restaurant and Yang Seung Eun, the owner of Patron restaurant, both agree that they want to settle in HCMC because it is easy for them to do business as people are friendly and socialize.


    Soeng Deok says it is not difficult for him to integrate into HCMC life because things are quite the same as in Korea, especially in terms of culture.


    Seung Eun says what she likes most about Vietnam is its people, who seem to love Korean people and culture. “I find it very interesting when many Vietnamese people enjoy listening to Korean music and watching Korean movies,” she says.


    Unlike Super Bowl area where Korean people live close together on Hau Giang Street, thus forming a Korean-only street, those in the Sky Garden area in Phu My Hung town connect to one another in a widely scattered community.


    This area is more modern with a younger population. Korean people there mostly work at companies around the city rather than staying at home and running their own businesses, and students and children who come to Vietnam along with their parents.


    As in a weekend evening at the Sky Garden, many Koreans walk together or with their dogs, gather for chat, drink wine, play chess or sports while the kids playing around their parents.


    Most Korean people here say they are satisfied with their lives. However, language barrier remains the biggest obstacle they face because many of them cannot speak Vietnamese and not many can communicate in English, the same problem faced by Koreans on Hau Giang Street.


    Having lunch at Na Na Ri restaurant, which is owned by a Korean man and serves dishes prepared by Vietnamese and Korean cooks, Jung So Yeon, who works for a company in District 1, tries to communicate with two Vietnamese waitresses in Vietnamese but sometimes, she switches to speaking Korean.


    Yet So Yeon says she has made a lot of effort to learn Vietnamese and has made improvements. “My 8-year-old son can speak both Vietnamese and Korean ever since he was sent to school in Phu My Hung where he has many Vietnamese friends. I want to be like him so that I can make friends with Vietnamese women in the neighborhood.”


    Services to meet the demand of Korean people at the Sky Garden are more diversified than at the Super Bowl area with laundry services, convenience stores, clean vegetable stores, drugstores, hospitals, and centers for taekwondo and yoga and music teaching.


    Phu My Hung even has junior and senior high schools for Korean students, Protestant church and a Korean-language newspaper covering news in Vietnam, and Korean real estate companies.


    Kang Hye Won, a student at a high school in Phu My Hung, says she has been living in HCMC for four years and the only thing that she does not like about the city is the hot and humid weather.


    Hey Won says it is easy to adapt herself to life in Vietnam thanks to her Vietnamese friends, “who are always nice to foreign students.”


    Lee Soo-hyun, a woman who has come to live in HCMC with her husband, says her family is lucky to live in Phu My Hung area which is modern and clean and along with the Korean community around, they feel at home.


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