Anti-Chinese Protest in Vietnam Hurt Korean Firms

Korean firms in Vietnam are suffering the fallout from violent protests against Chinese oil drilling in disputed waters of the South China Sea.

Vietnamese protesters on several occasions set fire to or destroyed Korean companies because they mistook them for Chinese, the Korean Embassy in Vietnam said on Wednesday.

Some 50 Korean firms suffered damage in Binh Duong near Ho Chi Minh City. The owner of one Korean manufacturing firm identified as Kim was injured when he jumped from the second floor to avoid advancing protesters.

Many of the 400-odd Korean firms in Binh Duong suspended operations for fear of aggravating protests. The Korean international school in Ho Chi Minh closed that day.

Firefighters try to contain a blaze in a Taiwanese bicycle factory in Binh Duong, Vietnam on Wednesday. /AP-Newsis Firefighters try to contain a blaze in a Taiwanese bicycle factory in Binh Duong, Vietnam on Wednesday. /AP-Newsis

The Korean Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh urged the Korean firms to hoist the Korean flag to avoid being mistaken for Chinese and to let local staff dissuade protesters from attacking them.

Korean associations in major Vietnamese cities advised Koreans to stay indoors.

The Foreign Ministry here has asked the Vietnamese government to make sure Korean firms are safe.

More than 1,000 Chinese firms operating in Vietnam were set on fire, Hong Kong and Taiwanese media reported. Their Vietnamese staff downed tools and joined the protests.

The latest protests started after China pushed for the drilling of an oil well in waters 150 nautical miles from the Vietnamese coast on May 2. Vietnam sent about 30 boats in an attempt to prevent the drilling and the two countries' boats fired water cannon at each other.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 15, 2014 12:06 KST