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South Korean shopping malls chase growth in Vietnam

E-Mart and Lotte Shopping compete with Japanese and local giants

The Lotte Center in Hanoi is one of the South Korean company's most prominent locations in Vietnam. 

SEOUL/HO CHI MINH CITY -- Korean pop songs played over the speakers as young office workers browsed snacks and stationery at the GS25 convenience store in the Da Kao district of Ho Chi Minh City. The spicy ramen and sweet cookies lining the shelves were the same as they would find in Seoul.

South Korean manufacturers like Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics came to Vietnam decades ago, attracted by the country's cheap labor costs and rapidly growing population. Now, as Vietnam's wages rise and market conditions back home deteriorate, South Korea's retailers are increasingly following in the footsteps of their manufacturing compatriots -- but they are finding a crowded market and fierce competition from local brands and Japanese rivals.

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