Foundational Myths in the Republic of Vietnam (1955-1975): "Harnessing" the Filing Kings against NO Dinh Diem Communists, Cowboys, and Hippies for Unity Peace, and Vietnameseness Academic Article uri icon


  • The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Many Vietnamese consider the Hng Kings, who allegedly ruled from 2879 to 258 BCE, to be their ancestors and the founders of their nation. Not concerned with the historicity of the Hng Kings, this article focuses on the role of the narrative of the Hng Kings in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) between 1955 and 1975. During different periods of the RVN, attitudes toward the Hng Kings varied from a denial of their importance to attempts to use them to mobilize people for agendas that ranged from anti-Communism to antiwar sentiment to anti-Westernism. Those not inclined to employ this narrative questioned its historicity. Those who did employ it relegated proof of the kings' historical existence to secondary place. By bringing the Hng Kings into their discourses they were establishing them not necessarily as historical but primarily as a social fact transmitted through collective memory. Based on archival materials and publications, this article examines the agendas of those who "harnessed" the Hng King narrative. It also compares the Hng Kings' status in the RVN to that in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), highlighting differences and similarities between the two. I argue that the Hung Kings represent the complexity of South Vietnamese society and of the idea of being Vietnamese. This is the first study of the Hng Kings in South Vietnam.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Dror, O.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Dror, Olga

publication date

  • January 2017