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Koreans in Vietnam

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Title: Koreans in Vietnam  
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Subject: South Korea–Vietnam relations, Korean diaspora, Ethnic groups in Vietnam, Vietnamese people in Korea, Koreans in Uruguay
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Koreans in Vietnam

Koreans in Vietnam
Total population
83,640 (2011)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Ho Chi Minh City 53,000[1]
Đồng Nai Province 10,000[1]
Bình Dương Province 8,000[1]
Hanoi 6,300[1]
Related ethnic groups
Korean diaspora

Koreans in Vietnam initially came in a military capacity, fighting on both sides of the Vietnam War. After the end of the war, there was little Korean migration or tourism in Vietnam, until the rise of the South Korean economy and the decline of the North resulted in an influx of South Korean investors and North Korean defectors, as well as South Korean men seeking Vietnamese wives.[2][3] As of 2011, according to statistics of South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, they numbered roughly eighty thousand people, 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.[1] A more recent estimate from Vietnam Television says their population might be as large as 130,000.[4]

Vietnam War

The areas of responsibility of the South Korean army in Vietnam as of December 1966

Both North and South Korea lent material and manpower support to their respective ideological allies during the Vietnam War, though the number of South Korean troops on the ground was larger.[5] Then-South Korean president Syngman Rhee had offered to send troops to Vietnam as early as 1954, but his proposal was turned down by the U.S. Department of State; the first South Korean personnel to land in Vietnam, 10 years later, were non-combatants: ten Taekwondo instructors, along with thirty-four officers and ninety-six enlisted men of a Korean Army hospital unit.[6] In total, between 1965 and 1973, 312,853 South Korean soldiers fought in Vietnam; According to Korean sources, they killed 41,400 North Vietnamese Army soldiers and 5,000 civilians.[5] South Korean troops were hampered by their lack of command of any of the major languages in the country or among their allies. They were also accused of war atrocities, and are known to have left behind thousands of children of mixed Korean and Vietnamese descent.[7]

As a result of a decision of the Korean Workers' Party in October 1966, in early 1967 North Korea sent a fighter squadron to North Vietnam to back up the North Vietnamese 921st and 923rd fighter squadrons defending Hanoi. They stayed through 1968; 200 pilots were reported to have served.[8] In addition, at least two anti-aircraft artillery regiments were sent as well.[9]

Post-war migration

South Koreans

Four years after the 1992 normalisation of diplomatic ties, South Korean trade and investment in Vietnam grew rapidly.[2][10] Following along with the investment funds, the South Korean expatriate community in Vietnam has grown significantly. According to Chang Keun Lee of the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam, Koreans formed the country's second-largest group of expatriates, with only the Taiwanese expatriate community being larger; he estimated that half lived in Ho Chi Minh City.[10] Statistics from South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade show that their population has grown by nearly fifty times in little more than a decade. Their population more than trebled from 1,788 in 1997 to 6,226 in 2003, then jumped to more than thirteen times that size—84,566—by just six years later. However, in the two years after that, the population would only grow by a further 4% to 88,120.[11][1] Some anti-Korean sentiment also exists, fueled by decreases in promised investment, reports of poor treatment faced by Vietnamese migrants in South Korea, and the 2008 murder of a Hanoi National University student by her South Korean boyfriend.[12]

South Koreans have established a number of community organisations in Vietnam, including Koviet, a group for second-generation Korean youth raised in Vietnam, founded in 1995[13]

North Koreans

Before 2004, thousands of North Korean defectors had crossed Vietnam's northern border to find the way to reach South Korea. Until 2004, Vietnam was described as the "preferred Southeast Asian escape route" for North Korean defectors, largely due to its less-mountainous terrain. Though Vietnam remains an officially communist country and maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea, growing South Korean investment in Vietnam has prompted Hanoi to quietly permit the transit of North Korean refugees to Seoul. The increased South Korean presence in the country also proved a magnet for defectors; four of the biggest defector safehouses in Vietnam were run by South Korean expatriates, and many defectors indicated that they chose to try to cross the border from China into Vietnam precisely because they had heard about such safehouses.[3] In July 2004, 468 North Korean refugees were airlifted to South Korea in the single largest mass defection; Vietnam initially tried to keep their role in the airlift secret, and in advance of the deal, even anonymous sources in the South Korean government would only tell reporters that the defectors came from "an unidentified Asian country".[14] Following the airlift, Vietnam would tighten up border controls and deport several safe-house operators.[3]


Vietnam's first school for South Korean nationals, the weekend Hanoi Hangul School, was founded on 1 March 1996, enrolling 122 students at the kindergarten through middle school levels; two Korean international schools offering a full-day programme were also later established, one in Ho Chi Minh City (founded 4 August 1998, enrolling 745 students at the kindergarten through high school levels), and a smaller one in Hanoi (founded 13 July 2006, with 63 elementary-level students).[15][16][17] Prior to the opening of the Korean international school in Hanoi, most Korean families in Hanoi sent their children to local schools, as the other international schools were too expensive.[18][19]

Lee Seon-hui (이선희) is the first foreigner who obtained the Vietnamese legal license.[20]

International marriage

South Korean men started seeking wives in Vietnam. Two to three thousand South Korean marriage agencies were created which specialise in making such matches. Though in the 1990s, most were farmers, an increasing number of urban men have also resorted to arranging marriages through international matchmaking agencies; they cite the difficulty faced by uneducated men or those with low incomes in attracting South Korean women to marry them.[21] As of 2006, as many as 3,000 Vietnamese brides left with new South Korean husbands every year.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g 《재외동포 본문(지역별 상세)》, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2011-07-15, p. 76, retrieved 2012-02-25 
  2. ^ a b Balfour, Frederik (1996-09-16), "Vietnam a Strategic Choice", International Herald Tribune, archived from the original on 2007-06-14, retrieved 2007-03-27 
  3. ^ a b c Perilous Journeys; The Plight of North Koreans in China and Beyond, The Nautilus Institute, 2006-10-26, archived from the original on September 27, 2007, retrieved 2007-03-27 
  4. ^ "Việt Nam: Tâm điểm hợp tác của Hàn Quốc hướng ra châu Á", Vietnam Television, 2012-12-23, retrieved 2013-06-24 
  5. ^ a b Ku, Su-Jeong (1999-09-02), "The secret tragedy of Vietnam", The Hankyoreh, retrieved 2007-03-27 
  6. ^ Larsen, Stanley Robert; Collins, James Lawton Jr. (1985) [1975], Vietnam Studies: Allied Participation in Vietnam, Washington, D.C.:  
  7. ^ Kagan, Richard C. (October 2000), "Disarming Memories: Japanese, Korean, and American Literature on the Vietnam War", Critical Asian Studies 32 (4), retrieved 2008-12-02 
  8. ^ Bennett, Richard M. (2006-08-18), "Missiles and madness", Asia Times, retrieved 2007-03-27 
  9. ^ Pribbenow, Merle (2003), "The 'Ology War: technology and ideology in the Vietnamese defense of Hanoi, 1967", Journal of Military History 67 (1): 183,  
  10. ^ a b c Kelly, Tim (2006-09-18), "Ho Chi Minh Money Trail", Forbes, retrieved 2007-03-27 
  11. ^ 재외동포현황 - 아시아 (Status of overseas compatriots - Asia), Overseas Korean Foundation, 2005, retrieved 2008-09-10 
  12. ^ Kim, Tae-jong (2008-10-09), "Korean Nabbed for Killing Vietnamese Girlfriend", Korea Times, retrieved 2010-01-24 
  13. ^ "베트남 한인2세 후원단체 KOVIET 3주년 기념행사", Munhwa Ilbo, 1998-07-16, retrieved 2010-01-24 
  14. ^ "Hundreds of North Koreans to enter South, reports say", Associated Press, 2004-07-23, retrieved 2007-03-27 
  15. ^ "Overseas Korean Educational Institutions: 하노이한글학교". National Institute for International Education Development, Republic of Korea. 2007. Archived from the original on May 31, 2004. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  16. ^ "호치민시한국학교", Overseas Korean Educational Institutions, Republic of Korea: National Institute for International Education Development, 2007, archived from the original on October 2, 2006, retrieved 2007-05-15 
  17. ^ "하노이한국학교", Overseas Korean Educational Institutions, Republic of Korea: National Institute for International Education Development, 2007, archived from the original on 2007-09-30, retrieved 2007-05-15 
  18. ^ Korean elementary school set up in Hanoi,, 2006-07-08, retrieved 2010-01-24 
  19. ^ "Korean primary school opens in Hanoi", Vietnamnet Bridge, 2006-10-22, archived from the original on 2008-02-20, retrieved 2010-01-24 
  20. ^ 11살 맞은 코윈, 올해는 누가 참가하나. Dongpo News (in Korean). 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2011-09-09. 
  21. ^  

External links

  • Korean School of Ho Chi Minh City
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