by Simon den Balvert
27 October 2020
From post-colonial struggles to the battles to reunify Vietnam, North Vietnamese artists were key in taking the messages of Ho Chi Minh to the front of the battle and to the population of both North and South Vietnam. The Vietnamese propaganda posters were cheap and very effective. Even today, when you walk around Hanoi you see small shops where you can buy these posters. Of course, this is for tourism reasons but the fact that they are still there says enough.
Kien Ngo (20), a student from Hanoi still sees these kinds of propaganda posters when he walks down the street of the old quarter. ‘Propaganda is used in Vietnam in the forms of paintings, banners, flags, and news. Mostly the message they carry reinforces the ideology of how society should function in accordance with Vietnamese morals or how the government defines a good society. Especially now with COVID-19, there are a lot of signs and even cars driving around the cities with banners about measures and a vaccine coming’.
Everywhere in Hanoi, you see the communist flags. Especially around the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which is close to the parliament. ‘During the first years of school, including kindergarten, all classrooms have banners saying, “Forever remember what the great President Ho Chi Minh taught us”. It kind of gave us the impression that Ho Chi Minh is someone to look up to, and from the base of that, teachers and parents usually add “this is what Uncle Ho did,” which is one of the things the government wants to build society upon’.
Fighting the coronavirus in Vietnam has a lot to do with propaganda as well. People believe what the government says and will do what they’re told. Having a population of over 95 million people and only just over a thousand cases of corona says a lot about how responsible the Vietnam people are. At least, this is what the government says. People are very strict with following the rules and will do everything to protect each other, not just themselves.
‘I feel like in the city people are usually updated with more information. Most people know what is going on in the rest of the world and will have their own opinion. They also have more access to education with more western influence, so their ideology also takes form from the outside perspective. In the countryside, most of the propaganda really takes effect, people don’t have other sources to get their information from so they will do what the government says’ Kien adds.