International Development Planning Review

Foreign direct investment, enclaves and liveability: a case study of Korean activities in Hanoi, Vietnam

International Development Planning Review (2021), 43, (3), 369–392.


Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a core element for global capital flows and a key driver for urban transformation. However, the ways in which FDI flows have been associated with the production of new urban spaces have attracted little academic attention. This research investigates how FDI activities have led to the migration of expatriate workers and their family members who have established ethnic enclaves in search of liveable environments. The paper focuses on the case of Korean activities in the Hanoi Capital Region (HCR) where the growing volume of FDI has facilitated two bipartite activities in geographically separate locations: one in production space for industrial activities in regional areas and the other in the social space for residential and commercial activities in new urban cores. The case study of Korean FDI, the largest investors in Vietnam, and in particular the HCR, depicts wider perspectives beyond a single industrial sector. This research sheds light on new aspects of recent changes in Hanoi, borne of cross-border capital and human mobilities. The ethnic residential enclaves are largely self-contained for intense social interactions, used as a tool to enhance liveability and bounded within commuting distance from the industrial sites.

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Author details

Kim, Hyung Min