Since Lisa, the Thai member of BLACKPINK, gained her global popularity, Thailand has been embroiled in an unexpected controversy.
The public gave cold reactions when the military government was so into BLACKPINK Lisa‘s success and became too confident in the country’s soft power industry developments. The Thai cultural community has agreed that it is difficult to achieve the same as Korea unless strict censorship is improved to control the demands for democratization.
According to local media, such as Bangkok Post, on October 12th, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stated right after the great success of Lisa’s first solo debut song ‘LALISA’ release on September 10th, “Thanks to Lisa, we have confirmed the possibility of activating Thailand’s soft power”. He also added, “We are confident that (like Korea) Thailand can succeed if we further strengthen the global promotions of Thai cultures, such as movies and food.”. Although Lisa’s current success is attributable to the system and capability of the Korean entertainment system, the Thai elements used in her music video attracted great attention. This has proved the potential of Thailand’s soft power.
In particular, Lisa’s music video features the traditional Thai headdress “Rat Klao” and Phanom Rung Historical Park in Buriram Province, which is Lisa’s hometown. As the view of Lisa’s music video increases, the items that she wears in the music video are also attracting great attention not only in Thailand but also around the world. At the moment, Lisa’s MV exceeded 263.68 million views. On October 8th, it was also listed as “the most viewed Youtube music video by a solo artist in 24 hours” in the Guinness World Records with 73.6 million views.
However, the Thai culture community, which should be the happiest to welcome Lisa’s success, seems to be angry. It is because the Thai government, which is known for not allowing freedom of expression and restricting creativity, is misusing Lisa’s success in propaganda purposes. The Thai Film Archive deputy director, Kong Rithdee, raised his voice first; he said, “A conservative country where censorship has become commonplace can never make soft power prosper creatively”. The Bangkok Post also joined the criticism by publishing an article, stating, “If the current government is not eager to censor and allow young people to engage in creative activities, the soft power development plan will only be a daydream.”
The Thai industry has called for a proper change in the regime. They believed that if Thailand wants to make more examples of “the 2nd Lisa”, these actions are absolutely necessary. They listed out 3 things, including improving the government’s perception, reinforcement of soft power education, and the united efforts of politicians. Former Finance Minister also emphasized, “Thailand has never paid serious attention to the connection between soft powers and the national income so far. Now, the government should step up and make efforts to protect intellectual property rights and improve related laws.”