How football coach and a prince bind South Korea and Vietnam

Vietnamese football fans cheering their national team in an AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final match, with one of them seen here sporting an image of head coach Park Hang-seo on his body as he celebrates victory with others.
Head coach Park Hang-seo giving instructions to a Vietnamese national team player during a recent AFC Asian Cup match. The South Korean has led Vietnam to successful campaigns in Asian and Asean football tournaments and is regarded as a hero by the Vietnamese. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Head coach Park Hang-seo giving instructions to a Vietnamese national team player during a recent AFC Asian Cup match. The South Korean has led Vietnam to successful campaigns in Asian and Asean football tournaments and is regarded as a hero by the V
Vietnamese football fans cheering their national team in an AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final match, with one of them seen here sporting an image of head coach Park Hang-seo on his body as he celebrates victory with others. PHOTO: REUTERS

Friendship also boosted by interest in each other's food, culture and people, say experts

He's no K-pop star but, in Vietnam, 60-year-old Park Hang-seo is as recognisable and as popular as one.

The head coach of Vietnam's national football team became a hero early last year after guiding the youth squad into the finals of the Asian Football Confederation under-23 championship for the first time. The team won a silver medal.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 20, 2019, with the headline 'How football coach and a prince bind South Korea and Vietnam'. Print Edition | Subscribe