Today, walking around Ho Chi Minh City, you can easily see the image of a Vietnamese kid eating KFC-styled chicken, drinking Coca Cola and watching Disney Channel. On Vietnamese channels premiere a lot of Korean, Chinese, American films. English songs appear in iPods or MP3 players of many teenagers. All shows the tremendous effect of globalization on Vietnamese life, especially Vietnamese culture.

Globalization is defined as “the worldwide integration of government policies, cultures, social movements, and financial markets through trade and the exchange of ideas.”( Schaefer, R.T.(2006), Sociology: A Brief  Introduction, 6th edition, McGraw Hill). This phenomenon mainly comes from technological advance in communications and mass media. In addition, multinational companies and the trend of integration among countries lead to the fact that our world becoming flatter and flatter.

Globalization does bring convenience and comfort to Vietnamese people. Now we can enjoy goods and services with high quality and competitive prices as many foreign companies join our market. Advances in communication help eradicate geographic borders among countries and therefore connect our world. Especially, globalization shortens the long-standing distance among different cultures. For example, right here in Vietnam, we can watch latest movies made in Hollywood: Avatar, New Moon, 2012… We can read famous books written by authors from US, UK, EU, Japan, China…  We can’t help from observe the appearance of restaurants serving Thai, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, American, Latin American food in Ho Chi Minh City. Moreover, globalization is fast and useful ways to present Vietnamese culture to the whole wide world.

However, that does not means globalization does no harm to the culture of our country. One of the most concerning problems caused by globalization is the dominance of foreign culture on Vietnamese life. “Embedded in the concept of globalization is the notion of the cultural domination of developing nations by more affluent nations. Simply put, people lose theirs traditional values and begin to identify with the culture of dominant nations. They may discard or neglect their native language and dress as they attempt to copy the icons of mass-market entertainment and fashion” (Schaefer, R.T.(2006), Sociology: A Brief  Introduction, 6th edition, McGraw Hill).

Perhaps, the most transparent and serious effect is language. Our Vietnamese language is facing “severe competition” from other languages, especially English.


This poster is placed in Thoi Son, Tien Giang province, C uu Lond Delta
to advertise for the “Miss World 2010”.
The majority of people in this area do not know English.


English advertisement on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City


Where are we? Are we in Vietnam?

The address of this shop is completely written in English. No Vietnamese.

The official language of our nation is Vietnamese. So, why not appear any Vietnamese words in these advertisements? Certainly, English is very necessary to the development of tourism as well as nation’s economy. However, I still wonder whether the authors of these advertisements, accidentally or deliberately, are neglecting the mother language. No matter how it takes, that proves the dominance of foreign language to our Vietnamese.

Particularly, nowadays, many children who are sent to international schools find it difficult to express their ideas in Vietnamese because they use English as their mother tongue. Someone says that it is acceptable but I totally disagree. Certainly, I do not deny the importance of English, even I agree with the policy that English should be used as official language in education and workplace.

However, there is no need to abandon our Vietnamese. This trade-off is not worth happening.

Another aspect of Vietnamese culture which is suffering from negative effects of globalization is films and music.

(Source: )

“ Giai cuu than chet” , the copy of a famous American

musical movie “High School Musical”

(Source: )

“Ngôi nha hanh phuc” the Vietnamese version of a Korean film “Full House”

(Source: )

Another Vietnamese film with Korean style: “Mùi ngò gai”

The lyrics of modern Vietnamese songs are carelessly inserted English sentences. Their melody reminds us of Korean or Chinese music.

Many young singers try to imitate “as precise as possible” Korean style of performance and outfit. Their stage names make us confuse of their nationality. Noo Phuoc Thinh, Wanbi Tuan Anh,

Khong Tu Quynh, Ung Hoang Phuc…Are they Vietnamese?

Moreover, some unique features of Vietnamese tradition has been changed so much as a result of globalization.Let take a look at this following story:

“ Nguyen Thi Bich Hang, 27, an employee of a private advertising company in Ho Chi Minh City, District 1 has had lunch or afternoon tea with friend or young colleagues at Kentucky Fried Chicken, better known as KFC, fast-food restaurants several times a month for the past few years. Fried chicken, fried potatoes and fried chicken rice are their regular orders. Hang said that the convenience in payment and eating and the relaxed atmosphere are strong points of the stores. She also sometimes eats fast food at Lotteria with her family or her boyfriend when they go out on weekend.”

(The Saigon Time Weekly Newspaper, July 25th 2009)

Vietnamese tradition respects the family meals at home. However, the appearance of fast food courts rapidly changes this habit. Also, we can see the difference in the modern recipe and traditional recipe. While traditional ones prefer more vegetables and fruit, the modern ones contain fried chicken, fried potatoes, soft drink, hot dog, spaghetti…

So, how can we solve this problem? Surely, we can not isolate ourselves from globalization because as I mentioned above, globalization brings us a better world than we can imagine.Personally, the most important solution is we have to be aware of the difference between two definitions: integrating into this world and dissolving into it. We do learn wonderful things from other culture to make ours more beautiful but not imitate to become their “perfect copy”.

Please share your ideas and feeling on my writing. Thank you very much.

Duong My Thanh





  1. Nguyễn Hà Thanh Trúc

    You mention about a serious problem not only in Vietnam but also in other countries.
    In Vietnam, I really feel disappointed with some young people. They usually speak Vietnamese and put more English in their conversation. They think that it makes them become more attracted, knowledgeable. In addition, like you mentioned above, nowadays, lots of Vietnamese films copy the foreign scripts. I don’t know that they all go to school and study, why don’t themselves make a real traditional film which can attract viewers from all over the world. They can, but they’re lazy or not confident to do that. It’s bad.
    Thanks for your interesting entry. It’s really good.
    Good luck !!!

  2. Duong My Thanh

    @Thanh Trúc: Thank you very much for yor comment. I am so glad that you enjoy my entry:D

  3. Everything in your entry is exciting. You r absolutely right about the fact that Vietnamese teenagers nowadays like to promote themselves with English mixed Vietnamese. But i think it would be better if you had written this one in Vietnamese. We ourselves using English but it’s so blame we’re now criticizing Vietnamese people like us when using it. Just speak out my mind.
    Em thich bai viet nay cua chi!

  4. your writing reflects the negative consequences of globalisation in vietnam.It’s horrible to see vietnamese juvenile like imitating all things as much as possible to look like their idols.So how is vietnam when this process continually is on – going?

  5. I am finding information about globalization issues in Viet Nam in many aspects and accidentally I have chance to read your article. I think It is quite accurate to describe the situation which is happening in our country due to the effects of globalization. You mentioned both sides and make it clear with demonstrated images. I like the way you mentioned, both pros and cons of issues! In front of predominance of some other culture, I personally think that only by enhancing the quality of culture products of Vietnam can we preserve it against popularization of foreinge one! Don’t blame our children because people are always interested in what they prefer and as long as our culture indentity is not strong enough, we will lose in this indispensable competition!

  6. You are presenting and viewing this from a purist, bordering xenophobic, point of view. It is a misplaced concern, when I was growing up, families were speaking French wholesale at their homes. Not so much because they’re rich but because they’re educated and bent on giving their children an edge in life and career advancement. Benefits drive people

    Fluency in another language is always a good thing as it opens up the human knowledge store. In terms of business, English is a marketing tool and an easy way to ‘expand’ the targeted audience. Can’t fault that.

    In fact, Vietnam traditionally are very tolerant toward absorbing other languages (oẳn tù tì, sinh gum, sếp, môtô, ôtô, ..)

    That isn’t to say that there isn’t any silly misappropriation of uses of foreign languages. Misuse and perhaps abuse, but hardly a threat to the Vietnamese language.

    The bigger sociological effect on society and people would be the legacy of collectivization mindset and rule (bao cấp) that is still lingering, as evident by the lack of accountability, moral ineptitude, and ethical decays that starts from the highest leaderships. The collective interests of a left-over bloated crony bureaucracy that stop every reform and needed changes in education, medication, and human services dead in their tracks.

    THOSE are more real and pressing, albeit less apparent, problems to look at.

  7. I hear you. I feel ashamed to be Vietnamese every single time I read this. I think the attitude of many Vietnamese people to the preservation and domiantion of the native Vietnamese culture and Vietnamese language is purely disgusting beyond words.

    When I first went to Vietnam, all my nightmares came true – Signs in foreign languages or foreign language dominant everywhere and the worshipping of foreign culture over traditional Vietnamese culture prevalent especially among the youth. This is especially so with the prevalence of English on all the signs and in everyday speech. If the Vietnamese people don’t appreciate their culture then how should the foreigners who come to Vietnam do. I think the Vietnamese government should step up and make laws to get rid of all unnecessary foreign influence on the Vietnamese language and culture and to stem the negative effects of globalisation. A Vietnamese Institute of Culutre and Langauge would do this. Also to note is that it is up to the parents and adults as well as the youth to help encourage the Vietnamese language and culture to prosper and to reach out on the global stage. All big global events like Miss World should incorporate and showcase the best of Vietnamese culture and langauge. Lots of other countries have done the same for example- do you see Malaysia as negatively affected by globalisation as Vietnam is?

    Now don’t view me as a radical nationalist, I’m a Second Generation Vietnamese Australian and I fully embrace my home country’s culture as well as that of my origin. I think the improving of living standards is great if not the best for Vietnam but not at the expense of the Vietnamese culture and language. Hopefully in ten years time I can be assured that there is still a country called Vietnam.

    P.S the pics you’ve shown makes me want to puke. Hahaha!
    I’ll add more when I feel like to. And don’t be surprised if there are any mistakes because I don’t feel like to revise what I’ve written.

    Xin cám ơn.

  8. @Whackamolee No, what the blogger has written isn’t radical, it’s for the future of the Vietnamese culture and language. You’re right though about the apparent selfishness of the elite in Vietnam, I think that should be fixed too.

  9. The following opinion is made on observation and data recalled from memory of subject and course studied and from varies other sources that I’ve remembered. I can’t pin point exactly where I’ve read or seen some of the theories or scenario played out in the follow opinion originated from, hence no references for the one I can’t recall.

    It’s 9pm on Friday night, Le Loi streets, Cho Ben Thanh, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC); Jammed with tourist and local road side vendors, selling clothing and novelty souvenirs. Swerving scooters with inches to bare from collusion and traffic light signals, that no one really cares.The city I had visited only a few years before has change so suddenly; the trends, the people, the culture; have all now faded into a jumble of Korean and Hip Hop Style, Appearances, creating a Korean Homie Gangster K-Pop Culture.

    Everyone has an English name and speak or can read English. Yet not long ago English speaking locals were a rare sight to see, as private English tutors are not cheap and could only be afford by those with money. The busy streets of dust and clay, now filled with tar and gravel to make Western highways, where imported cars and super bikes now test their throttle and international restaurants makes any foreigner feel like home. The intoxication of being aboard and the city buzz of the tropic nights makes you forget the poverty that surrounds you, the infant begging or the old lady starving. Why still so many suffering; for the rich with knowledge, wealth and information will thrive to the future and the poor left behind in the past, collecting change and scrapes to survive and to eat, they miss opportunities and many uneducated due to insufficient support and unable to afford food, they are than force to work at a young age. The social ladder an obstacle many can never defeat.

    The traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai a sight I now rarely see riding my scooter around HCMC for Vietnam is slowly forgetting its roots and adopting dominant cultures of other nationality; Korean and US mainly; to an outsider it will appear we Vietnamese are ashamed of our heritage for we rather adopt others characteristic or traits that are not our own. Foundation laid by the unforgiving war, now seem so pointless as Vietnam has welcomed globalization without truly understanding the cultural consequences it has to a developing economy. Large multinational corporations such as KFC, Starbuck, Highland Coffee and soon McDonald introducing the fast food crave that have already decades existed in developed nations. These multinationals corporations although have internal culture of their own, however their internal culture will be based upon the founding members constitution and it’s Parent country culture. Once these organisation enters a country they bring along the culture that has been generated within the organisation. Although adapting to the host country culture to strategically position itself within the market it also unintentionally thought marketing and product placement through media and other technological outlet, introduces to an develop economy a better more dominant culture, like animals in a pack the strong will always lead and the weak follow.

    A global strategy for efficient usage of limited resources within national borders, by the World Trade Organization (WTO) has seen the rise in imported commodities to Vietnam. The WTO is the Global Watch Dog which upholds and enforce criterial requirements of countries wanting to join the WTO. March 2007 Vietnam joined the WTO. The governing party of Vietnam hence is force to uphold policies changes that would meet WTO membership requirements; this includes Lowering of Taxes, lowering import and export tax charged, giving protection to Foreign Direct Investments. But have these requirements when formulated aware of the issue of cultural desensitisation to a highly vulnerable and sensitive developing nation? Or is Ethic in making profit still equal bullshit?

    So does the cost out weigh the benefits? Is this the first step of becoming a free market economy? Or will we become like Singapore and Malaysia, where communism hides behind the constitution of Democracy and corruption hides behind a government backed investment firm?

    The Vietnamese culture has slowly deteriorated and the up coming generation tainted and influenced by international idols; Imitating a global trend, becoming yellow homies and Koreanese. HCMC has become a commerce hub for large corporations to exploit the low labour cost and consequently integrating it’s dominant Corporate culture into developing Vietnam, in other words Vietnam survives on Foreign Direct and Indirect Investments and without it we could be worst off. Vietnam has Culturally changed itself to cater for a global culture, HCMC has been seen as ‘the most modern city in the world’, as no other country has so quickly abandon it’s culture to take on that of the worlds.

    It would seem that the Vietnamese economy is changing, improving, with Consumers Price Index at a steady growth due to increasing wage policies, inflation falling to an all time low, lowering barriers of entry to Vietnam domestic markets saw new industries and new jobs created in the country, hence giving the the world a falsify image of a stable economy, but still far from having equality amongst the growing population.

    There are insufficient resources and job opportunities that could satisfy the growing population cramming into HCMC. Predicted to be 15million in 2025, HCMC has become the hub for international trade and the gate way to Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. But the increasing rural population that is migrating to HCMC seeking jobs and opportunities. The numbers are too overwhelming, even with new jobs and industries established by foreign investments, the economy can’t change fast enough and unemployment rate remains the same. Those who can’t afford to create for themselves a better life, for example the old, the sick and young children, are left to beg and are forgotten by a selfish poverty stricken society, ‘if I feel sorry for the poor, who’s gonna feel sorry for me when I have no money?’.

    So does globalisation create opportunities for all Vietnamese or is it just for the rich to get richer? It would be clear that globalization can creates jobs but it could also take away jobs,

    It would seem ‘the Invisible Hand’ of Adam Smith has reach across borders and created a Global Market that has connected and build relationships between once conflicting countries. Commerce has become the bridge to connecting the world cultural differences and uniting them as one. Cross borders interaction between nations made possible through channels of Trade and harmonization of a global standards. The era of Information has boomed due to the availability and accessibility of information through electronic distribution channel, and hence knowledge is at a click of your finger.

    The key driving factor behind ‘Globalization’ would be largely contributed by the advancement in technology, which has made abroad operation easier to manage by the speed information can be transfer to stakeholder to analyse and forecast. Therefore more efficient and reliable information for management decision making process; historic cost/data may not be relevant in all transactions.

    Technology has also made the manufacturing processes faster and cost effective, with Selling and Administration cost of advertising reduced due the internet being a preferred platform for reaching organisation targeted audiences.The internet naturally creates a more competitive market place, as large or small companies operating in the same industry can compete with each other at the same promotional level. It has also forced traditionalist governments to abandon outdated polices and regulation to adopt a more Global set of rules and regulation to cater for a more knowledgeable technological generation which demand information and equality like the South Koreans and the Americans.

    Globalisation has changed the Vietnamese culture, becoming a better or worst country can be argued both ways depending each persons perspective, but to me, we should always be proud of who we are and where we come from, remember our roots and our Vietnam Pride.

  10. Pingback: Mcdonalds is my tradition now | CLASSICMERGE

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