South Korea’s media influence goes beyond K-Pop, as Korean films and television shows are growing in popularity in Vietnam.
Since the early 2000s, local television and cinema have been inundated with Korean dramas and movies, which are enjoyed for their good-looking, stylish actors, quality acting, moving stories and superb cinematography.
Korean entertainment groups have also made more attempts to grab the local market share by purchasing cinemas, which screen a large number of their films and earn huge profits.
Almost three fourths of the pie
Korean group Lotte Cinema was one step ahead of their fellow competitor CJ CGV Group in penetrating Vietnamese media.
In 2008, Lotte Cinema purchased Diamond multiplex before launching new theaters adjacent to Lotte supermarkets.
The group now owns 12 hi-end cinema multiplexes in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and several other provinces, and plans to increase the number to 70 in the next five years.
Since the launch of its own multiplexes in Vietnam, every month Lotte Cinema has screened new Korean movies, which usually have simple plot lines and star popular Korean actors and actresses.
“Lo Lem Sai Gon” (Saigon Cinderella), a Vietnamese-Korean movie distributed by Lotte Cinema in 2013, featured seven-year-old Vietnamese-Korean entertainer Hwang Min Woo, who was dubbed “Little Psy” following his less-than-10-second appearance on Korean singer Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” alongside Korean actors and Vietnamese actresses.
However, the film was not a success as expected due to its bland content and mediocre acting.
CJ CGV, the largest multiplex cinema chain in South Korea which also has branches in China and the United States, caused quite a stir when it purchased Megastar, the country’s largest multiplex, in an over US$70 million transfer in 2011.
Vietnam was still a limited movie market back then.
At that time, Megastar owned seven multiplexes worth a total of $38 million, which accounted for 60 percent of the country’s box office revenues.
CGV Cinema currently has 14 multiplexes in Hanoi, HCMC and several other provinces, and aims to increase the number to 30 by 2017.
Since the takeover, CGV Cinema has screened more Korean movies alongside a large number of Hollywood flicks.
CJ CGV launched its representative office in Vietnam in the early 2000s.
“Lang Hoa Tinh Yeu” (The Bouquet of Love), a 2001 sitcom, was the first collaboration between TFS, a local film producer, and Korean counterpart FnC.
The show was a success, but the collaboration did not exactly reach expectations.
In 2005, CJ Media, the parent company of FnC, also launched the TV drama “Mui Ngo Gai” (The Scent of Coriander) in collaboration with a local company.
Tae Sun Jung, head of the representative office of CJ E&M - another subsidiary of CJ Group - said that they are cooperating with local producers in making films both to make profits and help tap into the country’s fledgling yet potential film industry.
With Vietnam producing only 15-20 flicks every year, CJ E&M aims at making three to five films a year.
CJ Group has also received the government’s appreciation in helping develop the content and multiplexes in Vietnam.
CJ E&M invested in “De Hoi Tinh” (Let Hoi Take Care Of It) a Vietnamese comedy film which is expected to hit local cinemas in November of this year.
The Korean company is also working on “Chuyen Ba Co Nang” (The Story of Three Ladies).
In September of last year, CJ E&M signed a contract with national television network VTV on a project to produce Korean-Vietnamese TV dramas, which are expected to air in both countries.
CGV Cinema and Lotte Cinema currently own 26 of the 40 multiplexes nationwide, nearly three-fourths of the “pie.”
Apart from doing business in cinemas, film production and distribution, both groups have also launched other services in Vietnam.
While CJ CGV has opened eateries and the bakery chain Tous les Jours, Lotte has launched Lotte Mart, which sells Western and Korean products.
Korean elements on local television
Though national and regional TV stations have begun airing dramas from other countries including the Philippines, Thailand and India, Korean shows still dominate the channels.
Most of the dramas currently airing on HCMC Television HTV3 and HTV2 are Korean, while national channel VTV3 now also airs three new Korean series.
More Korean-produced game, talk and reality shows have also been purchased and broadcast on local television networks.
Such shows include “K-Stars Secret,” which airs at 10:00 pm every Saturday on HTV2 and focuses on the private lives and careers of Korean pop stars; “Dad! Where Are We Going?” which airs at 3:15 pm every Saturday on HTV3 and features male Korean pop stars and their children taking special trips; and “We Got Married” on Yan TV, which highlights Korean idols roleplaying as couples.