Speaking as a Vietnam Veteran, I will retain a lasting interest in the place where many others and I shared experiences of varying degrees of intensity. Vietnam is an interesting, exotic and beautiful place. Many of us Vietnam Veterans lamented the fact such a cruel war had come to such a beautiful place that was populated by such a beautiful people. It was a war in which many different people and nations participated in one way or another.
South Korea was one of those nations that participated in the conflict. It sent 100,000 soldiers to fight in the mission to save South Vietnam as a separate nation state and a bulwark against the growth of communism in Southeast Asia. On more than one occasion the South Koreans were charged with crimes against the South Vietnamese civilians. As a result, there was much enmity on the part of Vietnamese citizens toward South Korea.
But times have changed and angry passions have simmered down. Today South Korea is the biggest foreign investor in the growing Vietnamese economy and the Vietnamese people are loving it. The new reality is described in a story found in The Nikkei Asian Review titled: Vietnam looks past war to new future with South Korea submitted by Atsushi Tomiyama, a Nikkei staff writer.
The Vietnamese still remember the atrocities committed by the South Koreans but there seems to be a willingness on their part to let it go. The possibility of a booming and prosperous economic relationship with South Korea helps ease some of the painful memories. In addition to economic aspects many private South Korean organizations are helping Vietnamese survivors of the atrocities.
Trade between the two nations reached $36.5 billion in 2015, up 73-fold from 1992. Over 40,000 Vietnamese are now in South Korea as migrant workers, making South Korea Vietnam’s most important economic partner. South Korea invested $6.98 billion in Vietnam, more than any other country for the second year in a row. Samsung Electronics currently operates two factories to make mobile phones and other products. The company now accounts for nearly 20% of Vietnam’s exports. LG group, a conglomerate, produces televisions and refrigerators in the country.
The times are a-changing.