Over the last decade, Korea has been responsible for a television phenomenon known as "Hallyu" -- often called the Korean Wave -- with a number of dramas, including "Autumn Fairly Tale," "Winter Sonata" and "Daejanggeum" ("Jewel in the Palace"). Its popularity has spread to a number of East Asian countries, including Vietnam, creating a cultural flow in contemporary Asia. The rising success of Korean dramas was soon matched by Korean movies, popular music, food and language. More importantly, it was related to Korea's growing power and the rise of global multinationals such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai-Kia.
In Vietnam, on the other hand, the Economic Renovation launched by the Vietnamese Government in 1986 -- as a switch from a subsidised period to an open market economy -- has had a vital impact on Vietnamese media. This paper will focus on the following issues: the media's landscape and consumption in Vietnam, policies issues regarding media content imports, focusing on Korean dramas, and a number of issues for establishing a common ground and vision for building a pan-Asian cultural content community.
The media landscape in Vietnam
The Economic Renovation launched by the Vietnamese Government in 1986 did not only transform Vietnam from one of the world's poorest countries in the 1980s, to one of the most successful countries in the world in terms of economic growth, but also had important impacts on Vietnamese media. Vietnamese audiences, who found it difficult to subscribe to a newspaper in the subsidised period, started to enjoy a wide range of choice in the media. More significantly, even though the mass media in Vietnam are under the Government control, after 1986, for the first time, they had to compete to maximize their audiences in order to increase income from subscriptions and advertisers, and also to justify continued financial support from government.
From 1995 to 2007, the number of newspapers published more than doubled, increasing from 375 to 867. The Vietnamese radio network is comprised of hundreds of radio stations, 11 of which are controlled directly by Voice of Vietnam. In addition, there are 64 provincial radio stations and 606 district radio stations, amongst which there are 288 FM radio stations.
In terms of television, the national television station has five channels. There are also 4 regional and 64 provincial television stations. As there are a number of television stations offering 3-5 channels, the total number of television channels in Vietnam is approximately 100 (excluding cable television channels). VTV, the only nation-wide TV station in Vietnam, was formed in 1970 from an editorial department of VOV. In 1976, it was separated from VOV and became an official name in 1987.
Vietnam is also amongst the top countries in the ASEAN for internet use, with an increase of 32.5 percent per year. At present, 23.5 percent of the population in Vietnam are web users.
Regarding movies, after a significant decline in the last decade, at present, there are 19 cinemas in Hochiminh City and 15 in Hanoi, and approximately from 3 to 4 cinemas in each province. Amongst those there are a number of modern and luxury cinemas with more than 500 seats, for example the Vincom cinema group in Hanoi. Since these modern cinemas were established, the number of attendances increased considerably. For example, the Megastar cinema group in Hanoi welcome 12,000 - 15,000 viewers each week. Hochiminh City continues to dominate the Vietnamese movie market which occupies 60 percent of total revenue from movie industry.
Having considered the internal development of media in Vietnam, it should be noted that the increase of media organisations and productions -- across all media -- provides greater opportunities for people to access public information. For the first time, listeners an viewers became consumers who could choose from a wider range of media products. Their needs were paid attention to, and mass media had to compete with each other and develop independently in commercial terms.
The impact of Korean popular culture
The impact of Chinese movies and later the "Korean wave" during the last decade, especially on young Vietnamese, has been a dramatic and significant phenomenon. As China and Vietnam are neighbours, Vietnam is influenced significantly by Chinese culture, which took root during the long Chinese occupation. However, Korean dramas are even more popular than the Chinese ones. Chinese movies were gradually replaced by Korean dramas on cinema and on television, after "Winter Sonata" broadcast nationally on Vietnamese television in the early 2000s.
In addition to the relatively reasonable price of Korean popular dramas, compared to Japanese and Hong Kong dramas, the attractiveness and content of Korean cultural products really attracted Asian production companies and Asian viewers. In Vietnam, during the 2000s, Korean dramas rapidly gained airtime on television channels, from the North to the South. At least four to five Korean dramas are broadcast every night. If the rebroadcasts by cable television channels are counted, the number goes up even more. In other words, Korean television dramas have been part of the daily programming of almost of all television stations in Vietnam in both afternoon and evening schedules, and their audience ratings surpass those of local dramas.
Young viewers in Vietnam have been attracted to the "modern image" seen in the lifestyles of Korea. The views and items portrayed in Korean cultural products, and the high standard of living, portrayed Korea as a dynamic and developed country. The modern images projected, all showed Korean television drama to be trendy, and Vietnamese realised that Korea was much more modern than they had thought it to be. Beyond enjoying Korean television dramas, the new generation of consumers are eagerly adopting and emulating Korean lifestyle rang