NewJeans Hanni: Navigating dual nationality and controversy in Vietnam’s K-Pop Scene
- By: Nat.O
- 1 month ago
While the group NewJeans is enjoying global popularity, they are facing a complex situation in Vietnam, one of the major Asian markets. Hanni‘s dual nationality from Vietnam and Australia has unexpectedly led to this outcome.
Hanni’s family background as descendants of the “boat people,” who left Vietnam after the Vietnam War, has caused her to become a subject of ridicule among local fans.
In fact, Hanni has faced strong criticism from certain Vietnamese internet users since her debut with NewJeans last year. Some online users, primarily on Twitter, expressed criticism such as “I wish Hanni had left NewJeans” and “Hanni should renounce her Vietnamese nationality.”
The reason some Vietnamese internet users poured out such criticism is due to the fact that Hanni’s family, originally from Vietnam, currently resides in Australia.
Hanni, born in 2004 in Melbourne, Australia, holds both Australian and Vietnamese nationalities. Both of her parents are originally from Vietnam—her father from Hanoi and her mother from Ho Chi Minh City. Hani’s entire family, including her grandparents, resides in Australia.
Growing up in Australia, Hanni nurtured her dream of becoming a singer while being influenced by K-pop artists. She is fluent in Vietnamese, English, and Korean.
Based on these factors, some online users have raised suspicions that Hanni’s family left Vietnam for Australia, just like the “boat people” who fled Vietnam after the Vietnam War, leading to ongoing criticism and negative sentiment towards Hanni.
The term “boat people” refers to individuals, including anti-communists, ethnic Chinese, citizens who collaborated with the United States, and Catholic believers, who fled Vietnam to other countries or were expelled from present-day Vietnam (Socialist Republic of Vietnam) following the end of the Vietnam War.
The criticism surrounding Hanni seems to be ongoing and is not an isolated incident. On platforms like the “K-Crush” page, one of Vietnam’s largest K-pop communities, criticism towards New Jeans and Hanni continues whenever related content is posted.
There are even suspicions in some quarters that the Vietnamese government, including the Communist Party, might be censoring content related to NewJeans, although this remains uncertain.
However, not everyone dislikes Hanni. There are also many Vietnamese internet users who support her, irrespective of political controversies. The sentiment that unwarranted criticism against Hani should be avoided is also prominent.
NewJeans initially gained traction in Vietnam upon their debut. Their songs achieved chart success, with three tracks entering the top 100 on the Vietnam’s “Top Songs” chart (based on Spotify).
Despite the controversy, NewJeans remains recognizable in Vietnam. Each time the group releases an album, it dominates the Vietnam Artist Chart, showcasing their meaningful career in the local scene.
However, due to the social atmosphere in Vietnam, it remains cautious to openly express liking for Hanni in official settings.
A K-pop industry insider active in Vietnam stated, “There are fans who support NewJeans regardless of political debates, but openly expressing support can be burdensome.” They added that there hasn’t been explicit government intervention or strict censorship by the media.
They further commented, “Although NewJeans and Hanni are well-recognized in Vietnam, it’s also true that there are many anti-fans,” and noted that NewJeans may find it challenging to obtain official event permits from the Vietnamese government given the present circumstances.