Cultural capital and the development of cultural industries in Vietnam

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Since recently the government of Vietnam has paid special attention to the development of cultural industries. Culture used to be the branch which could but “spend money” and exist at the expense of other branches, but now it is gradually becoming an important source of economic value creation and contribution to GDP of Vietnam. Considering culture to be capital also for Vietnam’s culture, the article sheds light on the development of five cultural industries, viz. cinema, performance arts, fine arts, advertisment and cultural tourism, showing thereby the contribution of culture to social and economic development of contemporary Vietnam.

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Cultural capital is the concept introduced by French social scientist Pierre Bourdieu in the 1980s. It comprehends not all the elements of culture, but only those which can be exploited, included into the economic circulation, transmitted and can participate in the creation of value, utility and income in the process of economic circulation or transmission [Bourdieu 1986: 242]. The concept of cultural capital has been furthered and promoted in many research works, at the same time being criticized and supplemented, which resulted in the emergence of numerous analytical approaches and frameworks. The interpretations vary, but it is certain that since its introduction the concept of cultural capital has significantly influenced sociology, pedagogy and cultural studies. In economics this concept was promoted by David Throsby. He writes that beside natural (natural resources), material (material basis created by humans) and human capitals there is cultural capital, the fourth main type of the capital for development [Throsby 1999: 4].

In Vietnam Tran Dinh Huou is the first to comprehend culture as capital. However, Pierre Bourdieu concentrates on cultural capital of an individual; it is formed of the capitals of a family, education and society and brings income to them, while Tran Dinh Huou focuses on the capital of society. In his opinion, cultural capital is the public domain accumulated in time, and thus determining typical characteristics of the people who is the bearer of this culture, and showing its ingenuity [Trần Đình Hượu 2011]. Unlike Tran Dinh Huou, who analyzes intangible culture, Tran Huu Dung has advanced and included materal aspects in the concept of cultural capital, too [Trần Hữu Dũng 2002]. In his turn, Tran Thi An, though supposing cultural capital to be the public domain, yet argues that cultural capital acquires features of capital only when it is alienated from society and is a separate value which can be used and capitalized upon, for instance, to develop tourism or cultural industries [Trần Thị An 2018].

The research of cultural industries has significantly advanced abroad, particularly in the countries where they develop vividly: in the US, Great Britain, France, Japan, Korea, Taiwan etc. In Vietnam the first researches of cultural industries usually attempt to deepen the comprehension of this concept’s essence and the ways to delimit cultural industries [Mai Hải Oanh 2006]; particularities and roles of cultural industries for national economic development [Nguyễn Thị Hương 2008]; theoretical and practical aspects of cultural industries’ development in Vietnam [Đặng Hoài Thu, Phạm Bích Huyền 2012]; current development of cultural industries in Hanoi [Phạm Duy Đức, Vũ Thị Phương Hậu 2012] etc. Contemporary researches concentrate on the ways to attract resources, measures to develop cultural industries [Đỗ Thị Thanh Thủy 2014]; opportunities, challenges and problems of cultural industries’ development in Vietnam [Từ Thị Loan 2017]; the role of cultural industries in the formation of Vietnam’s cultural “soft force” [Nguyễn Thị Thu Phương 2021].

General research of cultural industries’ development in Vietnam is a relatively new topic, this niche is virtually free; also, there is a perceived shortage of the analysis of cultural capital theory application to the cultural industries’ development.

The definition of Vietnam’s cultural capital

Vietnam’s culture is a multicolored palette which has absorbed cultural values of fifty-four fraternal nations of the country. In its turn, every nation is a bearer of immense heritage and centuries-old traditions. From the standpoint of material culture, Vietnam is the country of “thousand years, ten thousand things”1 with plenty of architectural works, towns and fortresses, imperial tombs, cultural and historical sites. They are source of cultural capital with its potential for mastery, use and development of cultural industries, first of all for tourism. For January 2022 on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites there are eight sites in Vietnam2, more than 4000 historical monuments of national importance, more than 9000 monuments protected by provinces [Bộ Văn hóa 2022]. Among them there are numerous historical monuments commemorated to national heroes, cultural figures, historical events; architectural works, archeological and landscape sites; monuments of revolution history. They can become places of interest for internal and international tourism.

Vietnam’s museum system consisting of 148 institutions mostly cares for cultural heritage of the past displayed as artifacts, national values, relics, rarities, etc. Such museums as Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Vietnam National Museum of History, Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts, Quang Ninh Museum successfully work with documents and artifacts for excursions, research, education and popularization.

As far as intangible culture is concerned, Vietnam, a country of “thousand years and fine stories”3, is a goldmine of spiritual traditions. For October 2021 14 sites in Vietnam are on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists and those for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, seven objects are enlisted into documentary heritage of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register4, 396 ones into the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Besides, innumerable spiritual values are manifested in literature, music, theatre, fine art, religion and rituals, festive events, traditions, customs, etc.

In the field of music, Vietnam being a multinational state where every nation has its own melodies and musical instruments, possesses great diversity; every region possesses its own bright sound color, such as folk singing quan họ in Bac Ninh province5; Nghe Tinh province6 with melodies and giặm7; in South Vietnam: chamber ensemble music and singing đờn ca tài tử; also, nhã nhạc court music of the imperial palace in Hue (Fig. 1); the cultural space of gongs (cồng chiêng)8 in the provinces of Central Highlands (Tay Nguyen); in Central Vietnam: singing bài chòi9; hát xẩm10, ca trù11, hát văn12, hát xoan13 etc. Original local musical instruments are made of natural materials, such as various bamboo types, stones, buffalo’s horn. They are: a flute (sáo), a horn tù và, a percussion instrument thanh la, a slit-drum in the shape of a fish (), drums trống, a plucked monochord (đàn bầu), tubular xilophones đàn t’rưng and klông put etc. These instruments are of great interest abroad.

Modern popular music of Vietnam basing on national traditions and absorbing western ones, actively develops a lot of trends, from tiền chiến14, tình khúc15, bolero16, “red” music17, “young” music18, “light” music19 to contemporary ones. Now, in Vietnam there exist virtually all the “global” musical genres: pop, rock, jazz, rhythm-n-blues, hip-hop, rap, etc.


Fig. 1. Nhã nhạc court music of the imperial palace in Hue. An open source photo


The theatre of Vietnam is based on centuries-old traditional theatre forms, such as chèo20, tuồng21, also called singing, hát bội, or hát bộ; puppet-theatre on a stage (rối cạn), on water (rối nước) etc (Fig. 2).; high theatre forms emerged about a hundred years ago, being a result of Western culture influence. They are cải lương)22, theatrical singing ca kịch Huế, performance of songs ca kịch bài chòi, Nghe Tinh theatrical folk singing kịch hát dân ca etc.; foreign theatre genres, which emerged in Vietnam in the 20th century, such as drama, ballet, opera, circus, music-hall, concert programs etc. At the same time, there exists theatre of national minorities, such as rơbăm and kukê of the Khmers of South Vietnam, theatres of the Chams, Hoa (Chinese) and other nations. After the country’s transition to market economy, performance arts manifest themselves still more clearly. Every year there appear hundreds of new performances of various genres. At the same time new theatre forms, such as circus, illusion show, fashion show (defile), current performance are also growing rapidly and collect big audiences and big income.

Traditions of Vietnam’s fine arts have their roots in time immemorial, being the first images on Dong Son bronze drums23; in the course of time they witnessed their heyday in sculpture and cult architecture, palaces of the Ly, Tran and Le dynasties. They are typical in the interior of the traditional community house (dinh). Painting emerged later, when there appeared pictures on the silk, psychological portrait, temples’ decoration, lacquered painting, woodcarving, court painting and folk splint (regions of Dong Ho, Hang Trong, Kim Hoang etc.). By the time of the Nguyen dynasty Vietnamese fine arts had already been formed and they reflected main features of the country’s feudal art. The period since the early 20th century has witnessed significant shifts in this field under the influence of Western culture. “The Golden Generation” of painters originated in l’École des beaux-arts de l’Indochine (among them there are such well-known groups as “Tri Lan Van Can”24, “Phai, Sang, Lien, Nghiem”25, “Pho, Thu, Luu, Dam”)26, led Vietnam’s art to a new level having brought it nearer to the world one. In the current conditions of globalization Vietnam’s contemporary art is represented with all the trends, from realism, surrealism, impressionism, abstractionism to post-modern trends, such as installation, performance-art, video-art, body-art, community-art, digital-art, etc.


Fig. 2. Puppet-theatre on water (rối nước). An open source photo


Also, Vietnam is known with its holidays and feasts. There are about eight thousand of them; among them more than seven thousand folk and deeply original ones [Cục Văn hóa cơ sở 2008]. Numerous large-scope colored festivities, such as rituals of the Hung Kings Commemoration Day, Huong Pagoda Festival, Thanh Giong Festival in commemoration of the legendary hero, Ba Chua Xu Temple Festival on the Sam mountain, the Phu Day feast, the Do and Tran Templs Festivals, Lim Folk Songs Festival etc., as well as current measures, such as Da Nang Fireworks Festival, Da Lat Flowers Festival, Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival, are important events attracting both internal and foreign tourists, also being an opportunity to represent and sell goods of local production.

Also, Vietnam is known as the country of traditional craft villages. All over the country there are more than two thousand villages specialized in traditional applied arts. These are favourite products of local and foreign guests: ceramics of Bat Trang, Phu Lang, Chu Dau, Huong Сanh villages; stone carvings of Non Nuoc, Ninh Van; silver of Dong Sam, Dinh Cong, Chau Khe; cast copper of Ngu Xa, Tra Duc, Dien Phuong; woodcarvings of Dong Ky, Thiet Ung, Chang Son; hand-embroideries of Quat Dong, Thanh Ha, Van Lam; cloths of Van Phuc, La Khe, etc.

Also, Vietnam is the country with promoted and refined national cuisine, where you can feel nuances both of Asia and of Europe. Recently, Vietnam’s cuisine has announced itself worldwide having been praised by leading world chefs and cookbooks. In 2019 CNN-channel put Vietnam’s cuisine in top-20 of the best world cuisines. In December 2020, “Lonely Planet”, a well-known Australian tourist journal, called Vietnam the best direction for individual tourists from the standpoint of its cuisine, and commented that “among national cuisines of Southeast Asia, “the best of the best” is that of Vietnam” [Một năm vượt bão: 16.02.2021].

At the same time, national and cultural diversity of 53 national minorities of Vietnam (some of them still maintain traditional life-style), diversity of cultural forms are the inexhaustible source of the resources to be coped with and to be awarded economic value.

The use of cultural capital in the development of cultural industries in Vietnam

Traditional Vietnamese society held artistic people in contempt, despised them and thought them to idle their life away. Up to the Renovation (Doi Moi) they were considered freeloaders, who only can live at the State’s expense with funds of other branches. But when the country had adopted the model of market economy, works and services in cultural field started to develop independently. Gradually culture changed its status of the branch which “can but spend” for that which “can earn”, able to create economic value to become a vanguard industry.

The radical revolution in the government’s attitude to the development of cultural industries was joining UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The link between the two concepts (“culture” and “industry”) meant to produce a number of goods and services with “cultural” content, but of industrial scale with the purpose to create high economic value. However, the concept of “industry” focused not so much on production processes as on the unification of products and rationalization of their supply and distribution.

Under UNESCO guidance and proceeding from the needs of the country, Vietnam's government significantly changed its comprehension of the role and functions of culture. Formerly being the sphere of intangible values having nothing in common with commerce, culture has become the vanguard sphere of economic growth creating the base for sustainable development.

In 2016 after numerous discussions, researches and supplements the Prime-Minister of Vietnam signed The National Strategy for the Development of Vietnamese Cultural Industries to 2020, with a Vision to 2030, which appointed 12 main Vietnamese cultural industries: advertising; architecture; software and games; handicrafts; design; films; publishing; fashion; performance arts; fine arts; photography and exhibitions; radio and television; cultural tourism.

The strategy’s temporal scope limits its focus on the development of five industries under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture, Sport ant Tourism, i.e., tourism, performance arts, fine arts, cinema art and advertising.

Rich cultural capital combined with natural beauties, favorable climate and hospitable population became a driver of tourism in Vietnam. Before COVID-19 pandemics the tourist branch grew with a fascinating speed. From 2016 to 2018, the quantity of foreign guests redoubled from 8 mln to 16 mln. 2019 was the most profitable for the branch due to 85 mln internal tourists and 18 mln foreign ones. The share of this sphere in national GDP increases every year27. Vietnam’s tourist branch competitiveness in international ratings constantly rises. Thus, in the World Economic Forum (WEF) rating Vietnam moved up 12 positions from 75/141 line in 2015 to 63/140 line in 2019 and became one of the ten countries with the fastest growth of tourism [Năm 2019, du lịch Việt Nam: 01.01.2020].

In 2019 Vietnam was awarded the nomination of “The Leading Direction in the World Cultural Heritage Tourism” and for two years in a row it was the leading tourist direction in Asia (“World Travel Awards 2019”) [Du lịch Việt Nam: 27.12.2019] (Fig. 3). The authoritative American journal “Condé Nast Traveler” (CNTraveler) has put Vietnam in the ninth position among the best twenty countries for travel in 2020 [Một năm vượt bão: 16.02.2021]. In the regions with the sites of cultural and natural heritage, such as Ha Long Bay, the complex of Hue monuments, Old Town Hoi An, Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex etc. the income from tourism is a significant share of local budget. Ethnic and cultural diversity of national minorities is beneficial for the promotion of ethnographic tourism in the mountainous regions of Tay Nguyen, Sa Pa, Ban Lak, etc. Still more popular are the travels with the purpose of visiting folk festivities, places of pilgrimage, handicraft villages, hamlets, as well as adventure tourism and business tourism in MICE form28.


Fig. 3. The new attraction "Golden Bridge" near Da Nang attracts many tourists. An open source photo


Performance arts are a sample how to successfully use the existing cultural capital and at the same time to create value added to works of contemporary culture and art. Vietnamese musical market and music-halls have never experienced such a gusto like now. There are more than 200 private collectives and groups, 150 clubs and about 130 public concert halls in Vietnam. Annually about 300 new programs are accepted for staging and from 2 to 4 mln designation go through preliminary check before recording concert and stage acts29. There are many talented young performers. A whole galaxy of V-Pop30-performers has gained recognition, not second to the best K-Pop, J-Pop31 musicians like Son Tung M-TP, Jack and K-ICM, Đong Nhi, My Tam, Trinh Thang Binh, Bui Anh Tuan, Erik, Noo Phưoc Thinh etc. Currently, Son Tung M-TP is a performer with literally immense quantity of fans, who has gained an incredible success during a couple of years (Fig. 4). He is on the list “30 Under 30” of “Forbes Vietnam” journal, occupies line 28 in Billboard Social 50, is the first artist of Southeast Asia, who has entered the rating Billboard Global Excl. U.S. (position 126), twice he was the winner in Billboard LyricFind Global Chart. The music to his autobiographical documentary film «Sky Tour» (2020) had line 83 in the world rating of iTunes. Son Tung M-TP’s musical clips on YouTube have gained over 100 mln views; some of them achieved a million views in seven minutes after the release.


Fig. 4. Son Tung M-TP. An open source photo


Also, Jack (Trinh Tran Phuong Tuan) is the event in Vietnamese music-hall. His musical compositions get the top of recommended video on YouTube Vietnam 4 hours after their publication. His single “Camelia” (Hoa hải đường) 24 hours after its relese entered the top video “in trend” in seven countries, viz. Vietnam, Taiwan, Canada, Australia, Germany, India and Mexico. Also, it won the first lines of downloading in iTunes. Jack has become the first Vietnamese artist who was awarded “The Best Musical Clip” at the 25th Asian Television Awards Ceremony), and was the third among “Top 10 person with the most internet searches” for 2020.

At the same time, a number of other young talented artists have succeeded greatly along with “boy-bands” who have made the name for themselves and become a new “caste” producing a quality product and knowing how to earn. It is noteworthy that the former generation of music-hall stars gives up the sky to young original musicians, such as Chillies, Den Vau, Truc Nhan, SlimV, Khac Viet, Nguyen Hai Phong, Hoang Ton, Mr. Siro, Ali Hoang Dương, Only C, Dương Cam etc. There have emerged new musical trends, such as underground, inde (independent music), where Le Cat Trong Ly, Suboi, Dalab, Đen, Linh Cao, Thai Vu, Mr. A, Lynk Lee, Mr. Siro etc. successfully work. They are persons with special creative energy and passion, they do not imitate others, they create their original compositions. A lot of their songs have entered musical charts of authoritative national and international on-line resources by the number of plays.

Practice shows that the works combining typical features of national cultural capital and the best samples of human culture are certain to succeed. Cultural programs which have achieved international recognition, authority and make high profit are examples of such a combination. Just to mention performances of Vietnamese bamboo circus “My Village” («Làng tôi»), “Teh Dar”, “Motherland’s Rhythms” («Nhịp điệu quê hương»), a puppet play; the theatre of modern dances “Arabesque” [“Drought and Rain” («Hạn hán và cơn mưa»), “The Dew” («Sương sớm»)], “Ionah show”, “À Ố Show”, combining numerous elements of dances, drama, moderm circus, hip-hop, fine arts, music, special effects, light, and current technologies, make the performances greatly impressive. Some classic literary works have got their second wind in new forms. Thus, the famous poem “Kieu”32 is known as a ballet, a symphony and a film, now. As a whole, in contemporary Vietnam, commercial performance arts address to every age, to all sections of the populations of any cultural level, satisfying requirements of any audience.

Also, fine arts successfully use national cultural capital, enter international level and integrate into the market economy. Currently, 99 % workers of the sphere are employed in the private sector. All over the country there has been formed a system of galleries, having created great channels, educational centers and those offering works of art. Annually in Vietnam there are in average more than three hundred exhibitions, but 95 % of them are organized at the expense of private funding. There are professional curators, keepers who make an examination and selection of works of art, organize exhibitions and make projects. In the conditions of the Fourth industrial revolution a big branch of “digital art” has been forming. The internal market is rapidly developing which provides for sell and exchange of works of art; they can be done not only in antiquarian streets, shops and galleries, but also through internet, by “online auctions”.

Generations 6X, 7X, 8X of artists (mostly from Hanoi) born in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s actively express themselves, rapidly growing rich due to their skill. The number of artists in plastic arts is growing both in painting (oil, laquer, silk, acrylic, gouache, etc.), and drawing (print, poster, cartoon, caricature etc.) or sculpture (busts, monuments, park sculptures etc.). There has emerged a number of independent fine art associations and centers. They are popular among the youth and have chances to enter the international level, such as San Arts, Nhà Sàn Collective, Zero Station, Manzi, Quynh Gallery, New Space Arts, etc. Also, applied arts (industrial, fashion and commercial designs, prints, illustrations, design printing etc.) are widespread. The artists working in these spheres have special training. The annual income from the sphere of fine arts is about $60 mln. The average income of a commercial organization in this sphere is about USD 1,8 mln, and the income of a skilled artist is about USD 0,018 mln annually33.

Now, unique ornaments from Vietnamese Dong Son bronze drums are used in design of various best products. The images of Hanoi birds’ cages, wicker baskets and musical instrument khèn bè, used by the population of the north mountain regions, motives of Dong Ho popular prints, ornate images of dragons, clouds from ancient bas-reliefs etc. are creatively reviewed in current fashion design and in works of art. Due to this or that design the price of the work can grow ten- or even hundredfold.

The creativity of Vietnamese artists show itself also in artistic crafts, highly evaluated by both local and foreign buyers. These are ceramics and pottery, silver, needle-work and weaving, copper casting, bamboo wicker-work; various pictures: needle-works (Fig. 5), inlays, pictures of sand, stained-glass windows, on lotus silk, on natural silk, bamboo poker-work (Xuan Lai village), Dong Ho pictures; souvenirs and decorations made of mussels, silk, paper, bronze, bamboo etc. not only create economic value, but also reflect national character.


Fig. 5. A needle-work. An open source photo


Vietnamese cinema art is another evidence of successful mastering of cultural capital for development purpose, for the transformation of “prognosticated” and “sponsored” art, generally of political content, into mass art, meeting market demands. Now in Vietnam there are more than four hundred private film studios producing 50–60 % of the total production of the national branch. Among the successful private film studios there can be mentiond Thien Ngan, HK Film, Phuong Nam, BHD, Tran Phuong. There is an increasing number of private cinema nets attracting filmgoers, such as CGV, Lotte Cinema, Platinum, BHD, Megastar, Galaxy etc. In 2013 Hollywood Reporter journal put Vietnam on the list of 13 most popular markets which had rapidly grown that year. From 2009 to 2019 in Vietnam the number of cinema halls grew more than twelvehold, and their incomes increased 13,5fold34. According to the Strategy for development of Vietnamese cultural industries, by 2020 film industry was to achieve the gain indicator of $150 mln; however, by 2019 the branch had achieved the income of $176 mln, i.e., 20% higher than the estimates.

As far as Vietnamese cinema art is concerned, in 2009 Vietnamese films got but Đ54 billion, i.e., 17,9 % of the branch’s income, but in 2019 the gains increased up to Đ1 210 trillion, the share having been 30 %. Also, the quantity of domestic films grows annualy: in 2009–2014 about 15–25 films in a year were produced, i.e., 15 % of the total cinema showings, but there were 42 films in 2015, 41 films in 2016, 38 films in 2017, 41 films in 2018, which is higher than indicators set with the Strategy. Some films of private film studios attracted more filmgoers than Hollywood ones shown at the same time. They had big gains; thus, “I am under 18” (“Em chưa 18”) gained Đ175 billion, “Camellia Sisters” (“Gái già lắm chiêu”) gained Đ165 billion, “Win My Baby Back” (“Cua lại vợ bầu”) gained Đ192 billion, “Fury” (“Hai Phượng”) gained Đ200 billion. “Dad, I’m Sorry” (“Bố già”) produced by Tran Thanh managed to gain peak Đ400 billion. “Independent” cinema also has won several awards at big international film festivals: “Bi, Don’t Be Afraid!” (“Bi đừng sợ”), “Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere” (“Đập cánh giữa không trung”), “Big Father, Small Father, and Other Stories” (“Cha và con và”), “The Way Station” (“Đảo của dân ngụ cư”), “Father and Son” (“Cha cõng con”), “Song Lang”, “Summer in Closed Eyes” (“Nhắm mắt thấy mùa hè”), “Rom” (“Ròm”), “Taste” (“Vị”) etc. TV series (doramas) have also been greatly changed. They attract audience to screens at prime-time and contest successfully with South Korean, Chinese and American films: “Come Back Home” (“Về nhà đi con”), “Quynh Doll” (“Quỳnh búp bê”), “Life-Long Offence” (“Cả một đời ân oán”), “Mental Smell” (“Hương vị tình than”), “11 Months, 5 Days” (“11 tháng 5 ngày”) etc. There has emerged a whole galaxy of young film-makers of a high skill level, great originality, whose films are greatly appreciated by professional community and warmly welcome by general public. The success of cinema art shows that only the works deeply reflecting culture, traditions, and various aspects of Vietnamese outlook can win the audience.

Advertising, a branch inseparable of culture, has also achieved breakthrough results. Any products – not only advertised ones – have a success when based on national culture, when they reflect Vietnamese mind, when they are original, new and creative. Advertising is one of the most profitable branches in contemporary consumer society. Currently in Vietnam there are more than 7 000 advertising companies providing services at different levels, such as TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, internet, external media, polygraphy etc. In 2018 the greatest income from advertising among TV channels, Đ4 982 billion, was gained by VTV (Vietnamese television) followed by Broadcasting company of Vinh Long province, TV of Ho Chi Minh City, Digital VTC [Đạt gần 5.000 tỷ đồng doanh thu: 22.01.2019]. In the age of Internet online-advertising attracts 43 % of Vietnamrese users, mostly through social media. The income of digital advertising in Vietnam is estimated at $663 mln, i.e., on this indicator Vietnam is ranked the 35th in the world [Năm 2018, doanh thu quảng cáo: 21.01.2019]. On the initiative of Vietnam advertising association (VAA) there has been created the Institute of Researches and Training in the sphere of advertisement to fill in the shortage of such specialists in national companies.

As a whole, currently cultural industries in Vietnam amount to 3,1 % of total GDP of the country. Vietnam’s government expects that by 2030 this indicator will achieve 7 % of GDP and create a big quantity of additional jobs for the population35.


Vietnam’s culture having absorbed millennial traditions of Vietnamese civilization and total cultural diversity of the country’s population, is the inexhaustible source of humanitarian resources to master and use cultural industries. Also, this is an effective way to transform culture into an internal development resource, contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction.

Also, the development of cultural industries is an important way to protect national values, forms of cultural self-expression and national cultural sovereignty, to limit foreign cultural domination. Confident support of cultural industries is also a way to balance the waves of cultural soft force of South Korea, China, Taiwan, the US, etc.

Nevertheless supporting the development of cultural industries there should be paid attention to harmonize the correlation of economic and cultural purposes; humanitarian and cultural values with commercial trends; high culture and the demand for the simplest entertainments; dissemination of mass culture and forcing the elitarian one not to harm the forward movement of national culture.


1 The original expression «ngàn năm văn vật» is a widespread Vietnamese metaphor of a culturally and historically rich place (Ed.).

2 Among them: the Complex of Hue Monuments, Ha Long Bay, Old Town Hoi An, My Son, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi, Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park, Сitadel of the Ho dynasty, Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex.

3 The expression “nghìn năm văn hiến” is a Confucian metaphor of a place’s spiritual value (Ed.).

4 UNESCO’s Program for the Safeguarding of the World documentary heritage created in 1992 (Ed.).

5 Traditional singing widespread in the Red River delta. It consists of phrases sung by men and women by turns, usually in the form of questions and answers (Ed.).

6 This province existed till 1991. Now there are Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces instead of it. Currently the name Nghe Tinh is used as a short name of the both provinces (Ed.)

7 Vi and giam are melodic reading of verses. They are often performed in everyday situations: fieldwork, boating or rocking a baby to sleep (Ed.).

8 Ritual music (Ed.).

9 The practice uniting music, poetry, performance, painting and literature. Usually, they distinguish the two forms: “performance bai choi” and “games bai choi” (Ed.).

10 Currently this is a rare art. Traditionally it was widespread in North Vietnam, performed by blind musicians to their own accompaniment. Subject matters for xam were borrowed from popular Vietnamese literary works, and melodies could sometimes be borrowed from other genres or were composed specially for xam (Ed.).

11 North Vietnamese art of rhymed melodeclamation to the accompaniment of a lute and a drum. In pre-colonial time it used to be perfomed at guest-nights of the elite and at the imperial court (Ed.).

12 Rhythmic singing accompanying Mother Goddess rituals (Ed.).

13 Ritual music and singing performed in the first spring months, usually in temples and in community houses (Ed.).

14 Literally, «before the war”. It is a common name of musical trends in Vietnam from the early 20th century to 1945 (Ed.).

15 The common name for South Vietnam's music during the Vietamese War, generally represented with slow rock (Ed.).

16 Also, it is sometimes called “yellow music”, a popular genre in the south of Vietnam during the Vietnamese war (Ed.).

17 So called revolutionary and war songs, popular till the mid-1970s (Ed.).

18 Popular music of the 1950/60s originated in the south of Vietnam, based on modern French and American rythms; also, “green” music (Ed.).

19 Popular music of the 1980s, also formed in the south of Vietnam under the influence of contemporary (then) Western trends (Ed.).

20 Folk comic opera performed out of doors by strolling semi-professional troups (Ed.).

21 Traditional dancing and musical drama performances emerged at the imperial court (Ed.).

22 Literally “the reformed theatre”; a form of contemporary folk opera in Vietnam combining elements of traditional theatre tuong, folk songs of South Vietnam, classic music and current drama theatre (Ed.).

23 Ritual musical instruments of pre-historic archeological culture of the Bronze Age, which existed on the Indochina Peninsula and was called after Dong Son in North Vietnam, where its traces had first been discovered (Ed.).

24 The group got its name after the painters: Nguyen Gia Tri (1908–1993), Nguyen Tuong Lan (1906–1946), To Ngoc Van (1908–1954), Tran Van Can (1910–1994) (Ed.).

25 The group got its name after the painters: Bui Xuan Phai (1920–1988), Nguyen Sang (1923–1988), Duong Bich Lien (1924–1988), Nguyen Tu Nghiem (1922–2016) (Ed.).

26 The group got its name after the painters: Le Pho (1907–2001), Mai Trung Thu (1906–1980), Le Thi Luu (1911–1988), Vu Cao Dam (1908–2000) (Ed.).

27 In 2015 its share was 6,3%; in 2016 – 6,9%; in 2017 – 7,9%; in 2018 – 8,3%; in 2019 – 9,2% [Du lịch Việt Nam: 09.07.2021].

28 MICE (English: Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) is the industry field of business tourism in connection with organization and conduct of various corporate events (Ed.).

29  The Statistics of the Department of Performance Arts of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, 2020.

30 The abbreviation for Vietnamese pop-music (Ed.)

31 South Korean and Japanese pop-music (Ed.)

32 “The Tale of Kiều” is a poem by Nguyễn Du; its Russian translation was issued by the “Social Sciences” Publishing House (Hanoi, 2015) under the title (“Kieu. Lamentation of a tormented soul” (Ed.).

33 Statistics for 2020 of the Department of fine arts, photograph and exhibitions of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

34 According to the statistics of CJ CGV Vietnam, in 2009 there were but 87 cinema halls in Vietnam, which brought the income of Đ302 billion ($13 mln), in 2019 there were 1 063 cinema halls in 204 film theatres with the income of Đ4 064 billion (more than $ 176 mln).

35 Strategy for the Development of Vietnamese Cultural Industries to 2020, with a Vision to 2030, (Prime-Minister’s decision 1755/QĐ-TTg dated September 8, 2016).


About the authors

Thi Loan Từ

Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts Studies

Author for correspondence.

Ph.D. (Philology), Professor, Vice-Chairman of the Council for Research and Training

Viet Nam, 32, Hao Nam Street, Đong Đa District, Hanoi


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Supplementary files

Supplementary Files
1. Fig. 1. Nhã nhạc court music of the imperial palace in Hue. An open source photo

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2. Fig. 2. Puppet-theatre on water (rối nước). An open source photo

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3. Fig. 3. The new attraction "Golden Bridge" near Da Nang attracts many tourists. An open source photo

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4. Fig. 4. Son Tung M-TP. An open source photo

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5. Fig. 5. A needle-work. An open source photo

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