Park Hang-seo exerts influence in Vietnam’s public opinion

Park Hang-seo’s influence in Vietnam is real and it’s not overblown, a recent Hankook Ilbo-Korea Times survey of 1,000 Vietnamese people confirmed.

The survey was conducted from Jan. 3 to 15 to gauge Vietnamese people’s perception of Korea since Park took the helm in their national football team.

Seven out of 10 Vietnamese people surveyed, answered they came to view Korea positively because of the South Korean coach.

The poll found 73.8 percent regard Korea positively, up 9 percent from last year’s 61 percent. The most dramatic change came among people in their 40s. Last year, only 48 percent answered they view Korea positively, but the rate soared to 70 percent in this year’s survey.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen, a professor at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities of Vietnam National University in Hanoi, said Park’s impact on the Vietnamese public is undeniable. “He did something that no corporate leader or leader in other fields have done. What’s surprising is that he did it alone within a year.”

Vietnam has a stronger presence in international football tournaments after Park joined the national team two years ago. Vietnam became the champion of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup and reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 Indonesia-Palembang Asian Games. Vietnam sought to win their first Asian Games medal in football but their dream shattered in the shootout against the United Arab Emirates. Vietnam’s football team has improved a lot since Park took the helm two years ago, which has paved the way for his popularity.

Since last year’s survey, there were several events that could have affected Vietnamese people’s perception of Korea. President Moon Jae-in made a state visit to the Southeast Asian country in March last year. The leaders of the two countries signed six memoranda of understandings to strengthen bilateral ties. Korean companies’ investments in Vietnam have increased and so has Korean tourists to Vietnam.

Professor Huven claimed Park fever was the “real, sole factor” that paved the way for Vietnamese people’s positive perception toward Korea, noting Vietnamese people are not interested in politics.

The Hankook Ilbo-Korea Times survey, however, showed the Park fever had no effect in lowering Vietnamese people’s view of Korea’s troop dispatch to the Vietnam War in the 1960s ― 26.3 percent said they viewed the Korean government’s decision negatively. Overall the rate fell 3.7 percentage points from last year’s survey. But for those who are in the 50s or older, the rate went up.

Amid excitement about Park’s popularity in Vietnam, a former ambassador to Vietnam encouraged Koreans to keep making efforts to improve bilateral relations.

Yoo Tae-hyun noted the popularity of the South Korean football coach in the Southeast Asian country is not a panacea for bilateral relations as the Hankook Ilbo-Korea Times survey indicated. “Many Vietnamese people still harbor hard feelings toward Korea for the dispatch of the troops to the Vietnam War,” he said.

Yoo reminded the Korean public of Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang’s remarks during a summit with President Moon in 2017. At that time, the envoy said, the Vietnamese leader appreciated the Korean government for its “sincere efforts to right the wrongs” of the past and asked the Korean government to take more, concrete measures to move the bilateral relations forward.

According to a report on Korea Times

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