Young Vietnamese develop a taste for Chinese films and TV shows

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/3 18:38:39

Chinese TV shows are a window into Chinese daily life, Vietnamese fans say. Photo: IC

On the campus of the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, a small group of young people are engrossed in discussion. An open laptop screen in front of them shows a paused scene from the Chinese variety show Running Man.

Hoang Cam Tu, 21, and her friends from the university's Chinese Studying Club are drafting a plan for the university's festival in September.

As fans of Chinese TV shows, such as Running Man, Crime Scene and Happy Camp, they are planning to choose some fun games from the show to present at the festival.

For many young Vietnamese, Chinese TV shows have become an important part of their entertainment diet. On, a Chinese question-and-answer website, a post about Vietnamese watching Chinese TV shows has been viewed more than 70,000 times to date.

The presence of well-known movie and television stars also helps lure a large number of international viewers to the shows, according to Tu.

"We can see how celebrities behave in real-life situations. They are far more connected to the audience when they are not following scripts," she said.

A love for Chinese TV

A Vietnamese Net user commented on Quora that ancient Chinese dramas are quite popular in Vietnam, citing that the look of ancient Chinese empresses in the dramas created a trend where people started to post photos of themselves in similar makeup.

Another Vietnamese Quora user agreed, noting that Chinese dramas and movies were especially popular among Vietnam's female audience. Chinese romance novels are also enjoying marked popularity among young girls in Vietnam.

A few days ago, hundreds of local fans gathered in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City to welcome the film crew and cast members of The Amazing Race: China Rush. The team received uninterrupted attention from Vietnamese media and netizens during all five days of filming in the country.

"Shows can present the true identities of celebrities. Thanks to this, we can get to know more about our idols and feel more connected to them," Tu explained.

Chinese music shows are also popular among young Vietnamese.

"I spend one to two hours a day online watching Sing My Song and Come Sing with Me, Hanoian Nguyen Phuong Linh, 25, told the Xinhua News Agency.

"The shows prove that even ordinary people can shine on stage with a great performance," Linh said, explaining why the programs appeal to her.

Sing My Song, a Chinese talent show that requires contestants to perform original compositions instead of songs written by others, had its first Vietnamese version produced in 2016 by local firm Cattiensa Media.

After being aired on a national television channel, Sing My Song quickly became one of the most favored shows in Vietnam.

Realizing the new appetite among young viewers, online platforms started showing a greater variety of Chinese shows. Traveling programs such as Divas Hit the Roads and Flowers on Trip, reality shows such as Up Idols, dating shows like We Are in Love or family-oriented shows such as Dad, Where Are We Going? are now staples on Vietnamese TV.

However, Vietnamese Trung Hieu has expressed concerns over the huge popularity of Chinese dramas and movies in Vietnam. In January 2013, he wrote an article in Viet Nam News, a Vietnamese English-language daily, cautioning regulators.

Trung Hieu noted that the national broadcaster, provincial TV stations and other TV channels in Vietnam heavily relied on Chinese dramas and said that such an emphasis could not only skew viewers' preferences but also cause young viewers to identify with foreign cultures better than their own.

Vietnam's passion for Chinese dramas can be dated back to the 1990s. Photo: IC

Behind the scenes heroes

To meet the Vietnamese audience's huge demand for Chinese shows, more and more Vietnamese who specialize in entertainment programs are establishing teams to make subtitles for the shows.

"On the Earth Subteam's Facebook fan page, followers send us messages and comments every day about our translating schedule," said a woman surnamed Yu, the head of the Earth Subteam, which is one of the most reputable translation groups devoted to Chinese shows.

"It is stressful, but motivating," she said.

Having started the team in July 2015, the 26-year-old said seeing youngsters nationwide, who have the same passion for Chinese entertainment programs, joining the community makes very happy.

At first, the team produced subtitles for the shows they liked on a voluntary basis, she said.

"We just want to spread joy," Yu explained.

Now, with their translations purchased and published by many video websites, "the joy" is being spread even further afield.

Compared to entertainment programs produced by other countries, South Korea for instance, made-in-China shows have proved a unique attraction.

"They are very reasonable in length. Most shows last for just under 15 episodes each season - short enough to please both translators and young audiences, who are usually less patient than the older groups," said Yu.

Also, as Chinese shows are abundant in quantity and vary in genre and theme, viewers with different tastes have more options to choose from to find their favorite series.

Popular for a reason

Vietnam's passion for Chinese dramas did not start recently, but a long time ago back in the 1990s.

On November 25, 2016, Vietnamese Giang Nguyen Thu, wrote in the Times Literary Supplement, a weekly for literary culture published in London, that his childhood memories were tied to idle summer afternoons watching the popular Chinese drama Journey to the West, which was repeatedly played in Vietnam.

Although compared to TV series, literature was slower to orientate itself toward popular tastes, the novel Big Breasts and Wide Hips was a significant market success in Vietnam in 2003, and its Chinese author Mo Yan has been a household name since then, long before he won Nobel Prize in 2012.

A college student told People's Daily on May 11, 2016 that a favorite Chinese show of his was Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, a Chinese TV series in 2015.

"Only one episode of Flying Swords of Dragon Gate was broadcasted on TV every day; it was not enough for me," he said.

The People's Daily article noted that many young Vietnamese loved swordsmen and swordsmanship.

Chinese TV series featuring wuxia (adventures of martial artists) also attract a great number of young people in Vietnam with their good quality and intriguing plots.

Before Flying Swords of Dragon Gate was broadcasted, many wuxia dramas, such as The Romance of the Condor Heroes (2014) and The Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (2013), were very popular in Vietnam.

A Vietnamese white-collar worker told People's Daily that he found many characters in Chinese dramas likable. He took Liu Yong, a politician in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and the hero in Chancellor Liu Luoguo (1996), as an example.

"I like Liu Yong; he is a character with wisdom," he said. "I sat in front of the TV on time every day waiting for the TV series to be broadcasted."

Liao Lingzhuan, the head of the Chinese department at Vietnam's Hue University of Foreign Languages told People's Daily that many Vietnamese viewers welcome Chinese shows because they are well produced with beautiful scenes that meet Asian aesthetic standards, intriguing plots and a reasonable number of episodes.

An anonymous Vietnamese domestic helper told People's Daily that she viewed Chinese TV series with realistic themes as a window to see more of China.

"I have not been to China, and I hardly have a chance to visit China in the future, but I get to know more about the Chinese society and its people through TV series," she said.

For Tu, Chinese shows not only help her decompress after classes but also increase her knowledge in a relaxing way.

"Historical events, scenic spots and many social aspects of the country are reflected in the shows. It's awesome that you can have fun and acquire knowledge at the same time. Students like me really enjoy that," Tu explained excitedly.

Meanwhile, experts maintain that cultural factors play a critical role in helping Chinese entertainment programs win the hearts of young Vietnamese.

"Vietnam and China are neighboring countries, sharing many similarities in politics and culture," Tran Thi Thuy, the vice head of the Culture-History Research Department at the Institute of Chinese Studies under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua.

 "It is very advantageous for Chinese cultural products to be well-received in Vietnam," he said.

Newspaper headline: From China to Vietnam


blog comments powered by Disqus