Vietnam might best be known to most of the tech world as the home of Flappy Bird, the “wonder app” made by a single developer that blew everyone else out of the water and spawned hundreds of copycats- the latest of which, “Retry”, comes from the company behind Angry Birds, Rovio.
But even in the midst of an Asian economic boom, the country still remains much of a mystery to the Western world. Compared to the rest of the region, we’ve seen very few startups come out of the Vietnam. This might be due to its long, turbulent history of war and political instability, most notably the Vietnam War that included heavy intervention from the United States and whose effects can still be seen in many facets of Vietnamese society.
A limited access to healthcare, and both income and gender inequality are three challenges facing Vietnam today. Before the country made a concerted effort towards modernity in the year 2000, many of these issues were hidden, and are only very recently coming to light. An example is the plight of the Vietnam comfort women , whose stories of rape and massacre at the hands of South Korean military during the Vietnam War were relatively unknown.
Things certainly are looking up for Vietnam: poverty has declined, placing poverty levels in the country now lower than that in neighboring India, China, and the Philippines, and some very notable advances in technology have been seen from the country; they are one of the few nations working on a space program, with a US$600 million “Vietnam Space Center” set to open in the year 2018. They have also developed a humanoid robot, the TOPIO 3.0, capable of playing a game of ping pong against a human.