Vietnam football coach sparks positive outlook on South Korea

By Phan Anh   February 15, 2019 | 10:00 pm PT
Vietnam football coach sparks positive outlook on South Korea
South Korean soccer coach Park Hang-seo smiles during a game at the Asian Cup 2019 in Dubai. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Khoa
South Korean coach Park Hang-seo has 'undeniably' boosted the image of his country among Vietnamese citizens.

A survey of 1,000 Vietnamese citizens done last month by Hankook Ilbo and Korea Times looked at perceptions of South Korea after Park became coach of the national men's football team in 2017.

It found 73.8 percent of the respondents viewed the country positively, an increase of 9 percent over last year. Notably, 70 percent of respondents in their 40s had a positive view, an increase of 22 percent from last year.

"[Park] 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," Korea Times quoted Nguyen Thanh Huyen, a professor at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities of Vietnam National University in Hanoi, as saying. She also said that Park’s impact on the Vietnamese public was "undeniable."

While there were different factors that could have affected Vietnamese perception on South Korea, for example, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Vietnam last March or the influx of Korean tourists and investments into the country, Huyen emphasized that Park’s arrival was the "real, sole factor."

Ever since coach Park Hang-seo began leading Vietnam’s national men’s football team two years ago, the team has made history with numerous achievements in international tournaments.

Vietnam made it to the final of the 2018 Asian U23 Championship, the semifinals of the 2018 Asian Games, won the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup, and most recently, made it to the quarterfinals of the 2019 Asian Cup, performing impressively against teams ranked much higher.

Park, lauded as a "football wizard" by international media, has become a beloved figure among Vietnamese fans of the game. He was voted as one of four Asians of the Year by the Asia Journalists Association last year for his extraordinary contribution to Vietnamese football.

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