VIETNAM: Idol Culture Threatened by K-Pop Sensations

YVONNE EPPS WRITES – The Vietnamese Idol culture might have some competition from some neighbors whose intentions might be more hostile than sensational.


Last month, Vietnam Net Bridge covered a story on “Idol culture” in Vietnam where it was found that fan clubs obsessively love their respective idols like Uyen Linh, My Tam and Thanh Hang, so much that they cause public disruptions. But are these idols regarded so highly now? Recently, it was found that Vietnamese celebrities are getting a bad rap as female singers and actors are showing off their wealth tastelessly to the much poorer public. According to Vietnam Net Bridge, “Big houses, fancy cars, luxury dresses, precious jewelries have become the measure of ‘ranking’ of Vietnamese celebrities.”


But Idol culture seems to be invaded by the fresh faces from South Korea. In the latter part of 2012, the Korea Tourism Organization kicked off a tour around Vietnam to promote tourism in both counties which included many shows displaying South Korean art, especially a K-Pop festival that included sensational groups like BIGBANG, Dong Bang Shin Ki (DBSK) and Girl’s Generation (SNSD). Meanwhile, a university entrance exam triggered anger within the Vietnamese K-Pop fan community by asking students to comment on the statement “admiring idols is a cultural beauty, but [being crazy about] idols is a tragedy”. In retort, the students purposely failed this exam and created a Facebook group.


In a culture of stifled media freedom, a loss of idol culture in Vietnam to South Korea might be harmful to the growth of Vietnamese pop media. But fans do like SNSD and BIGBANG much like other fans in other countries, so this might be an epidemic of Idol culture shift worldwide.


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