‘Little Seoul’ instills Saigon with South Korean charm

By Tam Linh   February 29, 2020 | 10:50 pm GMT+7
‘Little Seoul’ instills Saigon with South Korean charm
A corner of Phu My Hung urban area, dubbed 'Little Seoul', in Ho Chi Minh City's District 7. Photo by VnExpress/Tam Linh.
Phu My Hung urban area in District 7 has, over the years, developed a tightly knit South Korean community.

‘Is it Seoul?’ This could be a question for many people when entering Sky Garden apartment complex of Phu My Hung in District 7, home to a large expat community in Ho Chi Minh City.

The area is primarily a Korean business district with densely-packed restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and hair salons.

Most Korean expats here do not speak Vietnamese or English.

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Phu My Hung is home to a large South Korean population in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Tam Linh.

Restaurants, grocery stores, real estate companies, law offices, schools, hospitals, and traditional medicine clinics litter the area with sign boards displayed in Korean only.

Nearly 11,000 South Koreans live in District 7, mainly in Phu My Hung, with the city’s total Korean population now nearly 90,000, according to the HCMC Vietnam - Korea Friendship Association.

Saigon’s first Korea town sprouted on Pham Van Hai Street in Tan Binh District around 1994, along with smaller areas like Super Bowl and K300 in the same district, near Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

But, in recent years, more Korean nationals have moved to Phu My Hung urban area, a 15-minute drive from the city center, making it the largest Korea town locally.

Kim, a South Korean who settled here five years ago, said the district is filled with many Korean services, besides modern facilities and airy space. "From District 7, we can easily access the industrial parks of southern Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces. The area also has many international schools that teach Korean," Kim said.

South Koreans love to play golf and need only step out their doors to have a swing.

Unlike other noisier quarters like Pham Ngu Lao, Bui Vien and De Tham streets in District 1, Sky Garden, encompassing Pham Thai Buong, Pham Van Nghi and Nguyen Duc Canh streets, is a little more tranquil.

It does not have a traditional market, only supermarkets specializing in South Korean cuisine.

Neighborhood massage parlors equal food shops. "Maybe Koreans walk a lot, so they need a massage," said the owner of a local parlor.

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Chicken is a popular South Korean dish that often appears on menu at Korean restaurants. Photo by VnExpress/Tam Linh.

The "Little Seoul" offers a mini world of Korean tastes.

In Vietnam, hansik (Korean food) has become a dining-out staple due to the popularity of Korean soaps and K-Pop.

Korean cuisine is part of the area’s allure. There is a world of dishes to try, like Kimbab (Korean-style sushi), Bibimbap (mixed rice), fried chicken, barbecue, Tteokbokki rice cake, and traditional beef soup.

Taekwondo centers, Yoga clubs, and Protestant churches have also been set up to serve the Korean enclave. However, bars and nightclubs are a rarity.

South Koreans living in Vietnam stay abreast with global news via the 24-page color-printed Vietnam-Korea Times published every Tuesday.

South Korean visitors in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by Shutterstock/AnNam.

South Korean visitors in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by Shutterstock/AnNam.

Mobile app VHLife provides a variety of information on business registration, housing services, flight timetables, restaurants having discounts and news in Korean. The app attracts a huge number of users.

South Korea is one of Vietnam's biggest trade and investment partners. The country is also the second largest feeder market for Vietnamese tourism, after China

The robust growth in South Korean interest in Vietnam has been partly credited to the successful run of the Vietnamese football team under South Korean coach Park Hang-seo

 
 
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