Japan, Asia’s highest-ranked team at No. 24 in the world, lost 1-0 at home to 79th-ranked Oman last Thursday to end a streak of eight consecutive wins in World Cup qualifying games.
The home team dominated proceedings and came close to breaking the deadlock, but Dick Advocaat's side defended stoutly.
Vietnam's occasional attacks mostly faltered before reaching the opposition box and South Korea keeper Jo Hyeon-woo was barely tested by a couple of tame long-range strikes.
Mexico lead Group F on six points after two games, having backed up their shock victory against Germany with another display to suggest they can go deep in this tournament.
Asia's teams have enjoyed mixed success so far, with Saudi Arabia struggling in Group A while Iran edged past Morocco and Japan overcame 10-man Colombia.
South Korea made history with their astonishing run to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals but the current crop of players have struggled to come close to that performance.
Andreas Granqvist's VAR penalty gives Sweden 1-0 win over South Korea in FIFA World Cup Group F game
The game was decided when Viktor Claesson went down from a challenge by Kim Min-woo with referee Joel Aguilar pointing to the spot after checking the footage.
South Korea made history with their astonishing run to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals but the current crop of players have struggled to hit those heights.
Lee's inability to play in Russia next month will pile pressure on the Taeguk Warriors who have already been battered by injuries.
South Korean coach Shin will cut three players from the preliminary World cup squad to finalize the final roster of 23 players.