February 21, 2019 | 05:05 pm PT

Hanoians chuffed to host Trump-Kim summit

Hanoians chuffed to host Trump-Kim summit
The U.S. and North Korean flags on a downtown street. Photo by VnExpress

Hanoi residents are proud that their city is hosting the second Trump-Kim summit, becoming the cynosure of global attention.

"I am happy and proud to see such a high-profile summit being held in Hanoi," Nguyen Thi Yen, 25, employee of an international firm, said as she finished emailing a foreign partner.

"It proves that our country is neutral, safe and effective in diplomacy."

Yen felt Vietnam’s reputation will be boosted by hosting the event.

Having followed the news about the previous Trump-Kim meeting, Yen was both curious and hopeful about the outcome of this summit.

"I am looking forward to the result. It’s great if they can reach an agreement," Yen said. "I hope it can contribute to bringing peace to the region."

She also said this event was an opportunity for Hanoi residents to show off their fast developing city to the two leaders and the rest of the world.

"Some of my foreign friends think that Vietnam is very poor right now," said Yen, whose study and business trips to Europe and other Asian countries have allowed her to make many foreign friends and partners.

"I think the summit can make more and more people to really understand what’s happening in our country," she added, looking down on the streets from her 20th floor office in one of the tallest buildings in Hanoi.

"I think Vietnam’s position will go up in the world," said taxi driver Nguyen Van Son, 31. "I really support the event, since it shows we are able to organize such a grand meeting and promote our country’s image."

Many people in the world will know more about Vietnam as international attention is focused on the country during the summit. This will boost the country’s profile as well as its tourism industry, said Nguyen Hang, a college lecturer in Hanoi.

Hang, who teaches English, scans through several international magazines every day to select articles for her reading class. "These days, Hanoi has been mentioned in many international newspapers that I read."

An estimated 3,000 journalists are expected to arrive in Hanoi to cover the summit, generating a lot of publicity for different facts of the event and of the country.

The situation is expected to mirror that of Singapore, host of the first Trump-Kim summit in June 2018. Coverage of that event saw an estimated 2.36 billion views with 8,000 pieces of online content that mentioned Singapore in its headlines.

Trump-Kim who?

Not everyone is excited about the summit, with some not even aware that is happening.

"I haven’t heard of any meeting, I don’t have much time to read newspapers or watch TV," said a cook at a bun cha noodle stall on the sidewalk, as she prepared a bowl of fish sauce with quick movements. A red bucket of dirty dishes stood beside her feet.

"I don’t really care much about it. What matters more to me is how much I earn today, not which country’s leader comes to visit our city," she said, busy serving her customers waiting for their food at about 20 tables on the street.

There are some people who know about the summit and are wary of the inconveniences it might cause.

Nguyen Hang, who drives 7 kilometers to work through several streets in downtown Hanoi is worried road blocks would interfere with her daily schedule.

She has seen that for some high-profile meetings or events, municipal authorities block some central streets for security reasons. The street where Hang lives connects the city centre with a venue picked often for high-profile meetings, and she is worried that it could be blocked this time.

"When this happens, I could not drive on my common route and take extra time on longer one," Hang said. Switching to a longer route with heavy traffic jams and wasting an extra 20 minutes on the road is not an experience she is looking forward to.

Taxi driver Son, meanwhile, plans to move his "beat" to another area from his usual one, if the summit venue happens in its vicinity.

"I am a bit worried about the traffic there (his usual pick up spot), since many people will gather for the summit and road directions will change."

He might also have fewer customers because some roads will not allow taxis, Son said.

However, he shrugged the potential inconveniences off.

"The disruption (of his hedule) only lasts two days," Son said.

"The more important thing is that our country can host this event. And if the U.S. and North Korea summit can develop their relationship and have great results, we will more than welcome it."

Ngoc Dinh