Ho Chi Minh, a city with noisy car horns and traffic of countles bikes. In a corner of this city, a first ever Vietnamese McDonald's was opened last February.
"The sales are better than expected. We're aiming to open another 100 stores over the next 10 years," said the owner Henry Nguyen (41) in fluent English. Vietnam joined other 120 countries that have McDonald's.
It was because of wariness towards an old enemy's huge capital, that introduction was delayed. However, it is a "symbol of wealth" to Henry, who was raised in America. It took more than 10 year for the store to finally open.
Mercantile city of Ho Chi Minh, where klaxons honk and thousands of motorcycles go by. In a corner of such city, Vietnam's first McDonalds opened in February last year.
"The sales is beyond imagination. I intend to open 100 stores within the next 10 years", says owner Henry Gwen (41) in fluent English. Advancement of McDonalds in Vietnam was its 120th country/region. The major capital of the ex-enemy state delayed the enticement. However, McDonalds is "the symbol of affluence" for Henry who was brought up in the United States. It took him 10 years to open this store.
It was the evening of April 25, 1975 in Saigon. There was a call from a US concerned party to the father who was an engineer of South Vietnam's government. "Pack your things in 30 minutes." It was a contact to tell that the South would surrender in a few days and that safety can't be guaranteed. Then, Mr. Henry was a year and 10 months old.
"The upsetting history between the US and Vietnam has ended. It is my fate to tie up the two countries," he said, and began to tell the story of his half life.
April 25, 1975, Saigon. His father who was an engineer for the South Vietnam government received a phone call.
"Pack up in 30 minutes."
He was told that South Vietnam was to surrender within a few days, and safety will not be assured thereon. At the time, Henry was 1year and 10 months old.
The family stayed at a house of their acquaintance in the suburb of Washington. His father worked at variety stores and gasoline stands to send his children to school.
In the meantime, Vietnam was isolated from the international community for invasion into Cambodia, and the citizens went through hardships in daily life due to the Planned Economy policy. Several hundred thousand people evaded the country on boats. They had extreme difficulties making contacts with their relatives until Vietnam restored relations with the US in 1995. His homeland put him in deep misery.
In 1995 when he was a student at Harvard University, he had the chance to visit his homeland to write an article, as a part time job.
The family became a dependent on one room of the acquaintance's house in the suburbs of Washington. Father let a work, children go to school at a general shop and a gas station.
On the other hand, Vietnam stood alone by Cambodian invasion of 78 in the global community, and the life of people was poor in a planned economy. Hundreds of thousands of people got away from the country in a boat. To restoration of diplomatic relations of 95, even communication with the relative of the hometown was full of difficulty. The mother country was the state which drove parents to wretched life.
In 95 of the school days of Harvard University, I visited the mother country by the part-time job of the trip magazine and got an opportunity to write an article.
Vietnam had been promoting the market economy since Doi Moi in 86'. Henry and other "overseas Vietnamese" are not the enemies, but a presence that brought in a business opportunity and foreign exchange.
Henry, who managed to advance his homeland, says: "There is a peace in Vietnam. It is overflowing with opportunities to grow."
Vietnam began to shift to market-oriented economy with the Doi Moi (reform) policy in1986. Vietnamese living abroad became the presence of business chance that attracts foreign money, instead of an enemy.
Now that Henry has made his way into his homeland, he says, "Vietnam has become a peaceful country. It is filled with chances for growth."
Vietnam pushed forward market economization in a doi moi (complete reform) policy of 86. Henry "Ekkyou" was turning into existence to call in a business chance and foreign currency not an enemy.
Now that I achieved the advance to the mother country, Henry says. "Vietnam became peaceful". I overflow in a chance of the growth