Millions in Vietnam have been tuning in Pham Quang Linh’s vlogs on his life in Africa. His videos have charmed audiences for his outgoing personality and rustic content, including showcasing Vietnamese cuisines like banh trung thu (moon cake) or hot vit lon (balut) to learning about traditional wedding customs or helping build schools for poor children here.
In one of his videos with more than one million views, he walks under the scorching sun, speaking to his local friends and helping them grow onion, tomato and other vegetables.
“I will help you expand the garden and cook Vietnamese food from these crops,” he can be seen telling his Angolan friend Lindo.
Many Vietnamese commenters said below they were touched at seeing a Vietnamese being welcomed and loved by so many African friends.
“I feel so emotional watching Lindo’s garden grow and Linh welcomed by local people,” one commented.
Pham Quang Linh poses for pictures with locals in Angola in January 2021. Photo courtesy of Linh
Quang Linh Vlogs is very well known to Vietnamese who browse the web. The 24-year-old from the central Nghe An Province moved to Angola, a Southern African nation, to work more than three years ago, and his YouTube channel has over 2.4 million subscribers and 687 million views.
Linh is one of many overseas Vietnamese content creators raking in lots of success thanks to their friendly content, rather than using vulgarity, obscenity, violence, or shocking elements to profit from increased viewership.
Many Vietnamese women who married abroad and live there also attract millions of views with content from their homes.
For instance, a vlog by Pham Thi Kieu Tien showing her presenting a tray of exotic Southeast Asian fruits such as mango, dried jackfruit and pickled tamarind to her South Korean parents-in-law to try became an instant hit, attracting more than 175,000 views in less than three days on her Yewon TV YouTube channel which has over 1.2 million subscribers.
Others like Ngo Thi Ngoan in South Korea and Le Thi Duc Nhan in Japan have also become sensations for their videos of their husbands and in-laws eating common Vietnamese dishes and other family-oriented content.
Their channels, Heesun Family Cuoc Song Han Quoc (Heesun Family Korean Life) and Vo Chong Nha Nhan (Nhan’s Couple), also have hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and all their videos get thousands of views.
Vietnamese living in countries such as the U.S., Germany, Australia and others have posted immensely popular videos of their families gathering to watch football matches played by Vietnam or chatting about current events in Vietnam.
Some have created YouTube channels focused on cultural topics rather than personal life. Kim Toan who lives in southeastern France after getting married tells compelling stories on her channel Ton Ton about local customs and culture.
A screenshot of Le Thi Duc Nhan (R) and her husband in one of their videos. Photo courtesy of Nhan
These videos get thousands and even millions of views because their contents are also often educational and informative.
In one video, Ngoan shows the kimchi-making process, and a viewer called Tran Loan responded by saying: “The kimchi-making season seems to be as fun as Tet (Lunar New Year) in Vietnam when family members gather around to cook and wrap banh chung (glutinous rice cake)”.
Many viewers are also excited to see Vietnamese become cultural ambassadors, spreading their food, customs and images to the world.
“Seeing how Linh helps promote the image of Vietnam through his volunteering makes me feel very proud of being a Vietnamese whenever I watch his videos,” a YouTube commenter named Nguyen said under a video showing Linh assist local people build houses.
“It is so charming to see her husband eat Vietnamese food enthusiastically,” a person named Kim Thao wrote under a video of Nhan’s Japanese husband eating vit nau chao (duck and fermented bean), a Mekong Delta staple.
Then there is the element that these videos by overseas Vietnamese somewhat help satisfy viewers’ wanderlust amid the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak when many are stuck at home.
“Thanks to your video, I have learned many things about how life is in the remote countryside in France and see that people there are very friendly and welcoming,” a person named Ngoc Pham commented under a video of Toan visiting a small village between France and Switzerland with her mother-in-law in January 2021.
Van To said, “Thank you for letting me travel with your family through your video”.
Mong Thi Xoan of the department of training, scientific management and international cooperation at the Hanoi University of Culture told Thanh Nien newspaper that regardless of whether someone moved abroad to live, work or marry, the most important thing is that they want to popularize the beauty and image of their nation to the world.
“It can be seen that Vietnamese everywhere are proud of their culture, and so it is natural that they want to promote Vietnam‘s values to [people] around the world,” she said.
According to YouTube, 25 million Vietnamese users had streamed its content on connected TVs in May last year, the highest rate in the Asia-Pacific region. The figure is 20 million in Japan and India each, and eight million in India.
On average, a Vietnamese viewer spent 70 minutes a day watching videos on the platform.
It said Covid-19 restrictions are keeping people at home, creating opportunities for them to share activities with those they live with.
With the pandemic raging and the new Omicron variant posing a fresh threat, international travel is being put off, and many people keep watching videos of their compatriots overseas to know more about other countries or just satisfy their travel itch.
“The pandemic has derailed my plan to travel to South Korea, so videos of Vietnamese living in the country helps me ‘travel’ and learn new cultures before actually going there when Covid is over,” Nguyen Ngoc Thuy, a millenial living in HCMC’s Disitrict 3, said.