Here's What Vietnamese People Think about Hanoi's Donald Trump/Kim Jong-un Summit



In February 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un descended on the city of Hanoi, Vietnam for a second face-to-face summit to discuss denuclearization. Pundits in the United States had plenty say about the meeting and journalists across the world swarmed the city to report on every moment as talks unfolded and eventually broke down. What I didn’t see, and thought was sorely missed, was how actual Vietnamese felt about this meeting going down. So I decided to ask a few myself.

Trang Dang, 36
Native Vietnamese

Trang is a native citizen of Hanoi who has lived in the country of Vietnam for the majority of her life. Trang works in the travel industry and while she has lived in other countries for short periods of time, including Melbourne, Australia for two years and Singapore for three years, she calls Hanoi home.

How do you feel about Hanoi being chosen for the summit and about the meeting itself?

I feel proud of my city.

Vietnam used to be known as a war country, and now the country and city of Hanoi is a place that can host an event for peace.

I’m proud we were chosen. I’m not very interested in politics, and I don’t really know about what either leader has been doing recently. But both Trump and Kim are so famous that it’s captured my attention and a lot of other people my age are getting more interested and reading more news about what’s happening in the city. We’re interested in the summit because it got the whole world’s attention.

Photo Credit: Lisa Esby

What did you notice about the way the city reacted to the summit?

Our people are very cooperative. Ahead of the summit, many streets were blocked during peak hours, and you already know how crazy traffic is in Hanoi. The summit made the traffic even crazier, but we were okay and willing to deal with all of the blocked streets. It’s the nature of Vietnamese people, we’re happy, friendly, and welcoming. They’re proud of the city, and they know how important this event is, so they’re even more cooperative.

What would you say to people who now have Vietnam on their radar as a result of this summit?

For many people that haven’t come to Hanoi or Vietnam, they only know of the country because of the war. But now they can know it from a different angle. They can see that it is a safe city with very good security that can host such a big political summit. As a Vietnamese person, I’m happy when we have more tourists, when we’re in the news, and when we’re known by more people globally. We’re proud and we’re glad more people are going to come to our country.

Charlie Huynh, 35

Charlie’s immediate family fled South Vietnam as refugees in the 80’s and he spent most of his life in Brisbane, Australia, a part of the large Vietnamese community that resides down under. He visits Vietnam every few years and was living in Hanoi during the month of February.

How do you feel about Hanoi being chosen for the summit and about the meeting itself?

I thought it was appropriate. They could have chosen Ho Chi Minh given it’s the biggest city, but there were probably more security concerns. I don’t follow politics strongly but I’m not a big fan of the meeting itself. From the information we got in Australia, I didn’t want Trump to be President, and I’m very much against Kim and the way of life he imposes against his citizens. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time in South Korea and they have low opinions as well. I feel sorry for the oppression the North Korean citizens that live in this communist country run by a dictator. The whole country is held back as a result. I don’t know a lot about the reasons for the meeting itself, I know it had to do with nuclear weapons and that it didn’t go well and they had to cut it short. But honestly, it felt like two powerful people coming together for a dick-measuring contest.

Photo Credit: Greg Hoskin

What did you notice about the way the city reacted to the summit?

I thought it was fake. Everyone has been saying that Vietnamese people were excited about having the meeting there but what people don’t understand is that they’re not voicing their real opinions. The Vietnamese are really friendly people. If an American approaches you and asks what you think, of course you’re going to say, “Yeah, it’s great.” The reality is that a lot of businesses shut down during this time, even on the streets that weren’t on the route. Shops, restaurants, street vendors, they all packed up shop and probably lost money because of it. I think Vietnam acts similar to North Korea when it comes to showing their public side and showing off these fake cities.

 I fell in love with the city because of that chaos on the street. It’s a developing country. They’re hiding and covering up their real self, and for what?

What would you say to people who now have Vietnam on their radar as a result of this summit?

Visit Vietnam! Don’t let politics change your view or perspective about a particular place. Following the war, Vietnam is very accepting of foreigners. Even mentioning Saigon, which back in the days would have put you in jail (“It’s called Ho Chi Minh now!”) has become this cool hip thing. Continue to explore, experience and discover the country for what it is.

The country of Vietnam is a unique and beautiful place, and it’s full of people who have opinions as unique and varied as the cities and landscapes within it. I’m not going to let myself get caught up in a bubble of news stories that say there is only one way to feel about major international news. Especially when I’m not familiar with all of the history and context of the region. If you feel yourself ready to start running your mouth about some major current event, maybe think twice, shut up, and go talk to the people who are affected first hand.

What country do you want to visit despite recent news stories you’ve heard?

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