How do the Koreans view the Vietnamese?

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How do the Koreans view the Vietnamese?
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Naturally, people from Corée du Sud (South Korea) have a very extremely nationalistic, period. It can be seen widely in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, where most of people still prefer “one nation, one race”. The Koreans are one of them.

I guess Koreans also know the Ly Royal family refugees on the late days of Vietnam. One of those famous ones was Ly Long Tuong, a Vietnamese refugee of this royal family who led the Koreans against the Mongol invasion. His successfully repel of the Mongols is widely remembered, although later Korea went under Mongol tributary rule.

However, due to significant historical difficulties, South Koreans often look down on other Asians, simply, because they are not white-skinned like them much. Racism exists everywhere in East Asia. I have seen this before.

When my relative sister married a Japanese, she was looked by some locals with a strange eyes in Japan, though. When our group of Vietnamese teachers visited Korea, the Koreans also saw them with something they seriously mock on. Darker people often received negative look from lighter one. And sadly, Vietnamese received it many times.

Besides, Vietnamese often see Korea as how similar to Vietnam is. Many Vietnamese seriously disappointed with current situation in Vietnam and wished to have “never united” under communist regime - they might have become South Korea, or Germany. We all know this product caused what happened.

Vietnam went poor, and now we have to ask Korean investors to help us. As for many Koreans are of Vietnamese ancestry too, I found a close bond between us.

It is a little conflict and mixture but that’s it.

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Here are the facts. 1. South Korea has a very big trade relationship with Vietnam. Vietnam imports more from South Korea except China. South Korea is the number 1 investor to Vietnam. ( South Korea becomes largest investor in Vietnam ) While these facts won't necessarily mean that South Korea loves or hates Vietnamese people, you have to think that South Koreans are at least respecting Vietnamese people as worthy of their billions of dollars in foreign investment. From what I know at the highest level of the government, the relationship is quite cordial even though South Korea did send troops during the Vietnam War. It was the current President Park's father, then president, who made a decision to send forces to fight the war.

Interestingly, the Vietnam War benefited the Korean economy so unlike the U.S. the word "Vietnam War" is regarded as positive to older South Koreans.

2. Vietnamese noodle restaurants are very popular. I have no idea how it got so popular especially among women. They are pricey and supposed to be trendy and upscale. If we looked down on the country, the chances are we won't touch the food.

3. You can probably careless about what the Koreans think about Vietnamese people because the Koreans have been disliked all the time but they are doing fine. The Koreans in Japan suffered greatly as they are often discriminated against and massacred for no reason. There are some Chinese and Taiwanese people who dislike South Korea because Koreans supposedly claimed that Chinese inventions as their own. As a Korean I've never heard of that other than maybe from the (nationalistic) Chinese media. After China forced South Korea to cut ties with Taiwan, Taiwan began hating South Korea for betraying them just as the rest of the world did. (It was the other ethnic Chinese in Beijing which forced Seoul to do just that.)

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Korean here. We are 50 million different people with different characters. It is stupid to generalize whole group of people from some anecdotal encounters you had previously. While I was living in HCMC for almost 1 year, I met so many lovely Vietnamese as well as equally unpleasant locals. Nevertheless, I love the country because it gave me whole different perspective in seeing humanity and world. If you have bad experience with someone from particular country, he or she just happens to be from that country. It is not the country but the person itself. Some Koreans could have likes and dislikes toward particular country, but in general we don’t care where you are from as long as you behave in common sense. Please don’t throw away the box because you find one bad apple in it.

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English is not my mother tongue; please excuse any errors on my part.

Maybe envy and guilt.

Vietnam is a very independent country. They have achieved unification, One united country means a lot to koreans. It's so depressing that brother with the same blood is always pointing gun at our head. The division of Korea is the last remains of Cold War and we probably won't solve it forever because kim won’t give up his evil dictatorship and china won’t give up north korea. The two Koreas will always remain as buffer zones for superpower countries.

But the Vietnamese are very strong and independent people. Their economy is growing very fast these days. On the other hand, South korea is suffering from terrible birthrates and aging problems.

And about guilt.. I always support democracy but many terrible things happened when we helped democratic South Vietnam. South Korea was filled with anger over communism because of Korean war. I want to apologize to the Vietnamese for the terrible things that happened in the war.

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I’ll talk about what I think about Vietnam in general.

I like Vietnamese foods like pho and spring rolls.

Some Koreans, especially those who couldn’t find their partner in the rural area, marry Vietnamese brides.

Vietnam war.

Vietnam is an underdeveloped country so they come to Korea to work.

Most people think positively about Vietnam but some may look down on the Vietnamese people since they are poor and they live in a totalitarian country.

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As a Korean living in Australia, I’m going to be brutally honest and say that Vietnamese people are probably my favorite Asians.


Growing up, I went to a high school which had a massive amount of Vietnamese students. I remember in 10th grade our class had:

8 Nguyen’s

2 tran’s


2 Ng’s

We had so many Vietnamese students infact, there was a school tradition where we would count all the names of Nguyen’s that were graduating every year. (My year level still holds the record with 26 Nguyen’s).

In comparison, there were only 2 Koreans (including me) in my year level. There were literally more than 14 times as many Nguyen’s in my year level as there were Koreans.

But despite out numbering us, the Vietnamese kids never bullied or harassed us Koreans. Infact quite the contrary, we got along quite well. I remember all the good times I had with my Vietnamese friends, going out to eat rice noodles and learning each other’s culture. They taught me Vietnamese words at school and I still remember the first word they taught me which sounded like ‘my door’ backwards.

From my personal experience, the Vietnamese were always nice to the Koreans, especially to me and my family. Never once did they even poke at us. They were always kind and would invite my family to trips and parties.

contrast to some Vietnamese writers on VietnamAnswer, the Vietnamese that I knew:

Never condemned the Koreans for what they did in the Vietnamese war. Hell, they never even brought it up.

(Adults and grandparents included)

Always had a positive view of Korea.

Was really smart.

Was very extroverted.

And weirdly enough, every Vietnamese person I’ve ever met had similar traits as in:

I’ve never met a fat Vietnamese person.

I’ve met met a shy Vietnamese person.


I’ve never met an anti-Korean Vietnamese

I never had any negative feelings about them. Nothing but a positive view for Vietnam.

Although you could say that I literally looked down on them. I was 182cm whiles many of my Vietnamese friends were around 170cm so when we talked, I would have to tilt my head and physically look down on them.

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South Korea is known for its extreme nationalism. From a very young age, students are taught that being Korean is a privilege and that they are the "best" there is. From my years befriending Koreans both from Korea and the Korean Americans, I feel as though SOME are racist. When I toured the South Korean transfer students at my school, there were 1 or 2 of them that were surprised that I was not Korean (I'm Vietnamese but I look Korean). They seemed kind of upset at it too. However, the rest of them didn't really care. Korean Americans on the other hand are almost 100% not racist. They treat everyone the same.

However, I think it is common for East Asians (Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, etc) to look down on South East Asians (Vietnamese, Cambodians, Thai, etc) partly because they don't look alike. East Asians tend to spend more money on lightening their skin, have smaller eyes, and somewhat taller noses. South East Asians on the other hand come in all shades of color, have big eyes, and most have flat noses.

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I am glad to answer this question, I believe I know Vietnam and Vietnamese in general more than most of Koreans do - I’ve stayed in Ho Chi Minh where my father currently lives in.

Therefore, I might have somewhat biased opinions (towards positives) on this issue, but I will try to be objective as much as possible.

1. Innocent and kind people:

Koreans think that Vietnamese people are mostly hospitable, and helpful. I felt exactly the same when I visited Vietnam, people smile more often, and don’t hesitate to help other people (especially to foreigners).

It is a bit different for most Koreans, people are rather be cold-minded, goal-oriented, very much individualistic (self-centered), busy, and competitive each other. However, it’s not because Korean culture or Koreans themselves are like that, but because many of Koreans live in the cities - I live in Zürich in Switzerland, the stereotypes towards Zürich people are exactly same in this society as well.

2. Great foods (ever!):

The Vietnamese traditional “Pho” is liked by all the Koreans, I would say. Vietnamese foods are very similar to Korean dishes, we love noodle soups, sea foods, and vegetables. Even though I like all the Asian foods in general, I can’t imagine eating Chinese, Singaporean, Thai, Malaysian, and Japanese foods for every meals, but if it is Vietnamese foods, there wouldn’t be any problems.

3. Deligence:

We know that Vietnamese are very diligent people as much as Koreans are. Both societies were heavily influenced by “Confucianism culture” in the society in general. Accordingly, diligence is one of the most important virtues, both people tend to pursue it.

4. One of the most prospective societies:

There is no doubt on this. I would say all the Koreans will agree that Vietnam is the most promising country among developing societies. Due to this expectation, there are lots of “Korean money” invested into Vietnam, not only private, also many of public sectors.

Many people wish we could share our know-hows on shaping, and developing the societies to Vietnam, and also wish Vietnam could become a fully developed society in the near future as we did. It might be partly due to the a sense of guilty from Vietnam war (we all know what Korean soldiers did to many of Vietnamese people…), and also a strong sense of kinship - we were also totally devastated by Korean war, and it took lots of efforts to build up society again.


Even though Vietnam is truly vibrant, and promising society, there are some negative characteristics as most of the people from a third world have (which I won’t mention here). However, those stereotypes exist not only in Korea. At least, those stereotypes towards Vietnamese (and other South East Asian countries…) exist in the two other countries I’ve ever lived as well - Australia and Switzerland.

Also, Koreans normally don’t really care about those seriously in a daily life. As long as you respect other people, and behave in a well-mannered way, you will be respected equally. “Politeness” is very important virtue in Korea, people would not disregard you simply because of your nationality, ethnicity, or any kind of backgrounds.

In general:

Despite of a negative prejudice towards how Koreans think of Vietnamese here in this page, I would say Koreans have pretty much good impressions and a sense of kinship towards Vietnam in general.

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About Vietnam War, Korean killed a lot of Vietnamise.

Why Korean do not make a permanent apology and permanent compensation to Vietnamise ?

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There are many South Koreans who live and have lived in Vietnam. I haven’t lived there but have visited couple of times as my father worked there for a while.

These are just some notions South Koreans have of Vietnam and Vietnamese people. Therefore they may not accurate and they could be classified as bias.

poor country / poor people / developing nation - unfortunately South Koreans tend to look down on Southeast Asians (fancy Asian vs jungle Asian theory)

unfortunate events have happened in the past. 1) mass killing of Vietnamese villagers by South Korean army during Vietnam War. Rumor has it that South Korean units did worse things to these people than the Americans. 2) Vietnamese mail-order brides getting bought to be married to South Korean farmers who can’t find a Korean wife. Many are horribly treated. (I can imagine! I would not want to be one of them.) Some are severely beaten and even to death. This has got to stop. Seriously.

“The economic dark horse of Asia”. South Korean firms and businessmen view the prospects of Vietnam very favorably. They see the old South Korea in Vietnam. They believe that Vietnamese people resemble Koreans in that they work hard, work fast and have a cut-throat attitude. They are go-getters and won’t take no for an answer. So with this work ethic, they just need good governance in order for them to accomplish developed country status. This is the reason South Koreans invest heavily on Vietnam.

But what do we actually know about Vietnam? I would say besides from some food like pho, Vietnamese wrap, some tourist destinations like Ha Long Bay, Nha Trang, Saigon, Hanoi or the historically important such Ho Chi Minh, Viet Cong, the war, we do not know that much about Vietnam.

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