Home Business Ok-pop’s social media energy spurs Thailand’s youth protests

Ok-pop’s social media energy spurs Thailand’s youth protests

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© Reuters. A girl walks previous a billboard selling a Ok-pop singer on the subway in Bangkok, Thailand

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By Patpicha Tanakasempipat

BANGKOK (Reuters) – From elevating a whole bunch of hundreds of {dollars} for Thai protesters to inspiring the youths who be part of demonstrations by way of dances and social media, Ok-pop followers have emerged as a potent political drive in Thailand’s anti-government motion.

Earlier this 12 months, Ok-pop followers in the USA stunned many individuals by utilizing their social media energy to lift funds for Black Lives Matter and to sabotage a re-election rally for President Donald Trump.

However in Thailand they’ve been a part of the youth tradition for a very long time, and their assist for the protest motion displays the frustrations of a technology that’s sad with the federal government utilizing the facility of the state to stifle dissent.

“Ok-pop followers would love to simply fangirl over our ‘oppas’ and care about nothing else, however with our nation like this, we as residents should name for higher issues,” mentioned Suphinchaya, 23, utilizing the time period of endearment for male Ok-pop artists.

Like many Thai protesters she declined to offer her full title due to the sensitivity of the problem.

Younger, principally feminine, and social media-savvy, the profile of Ok-pop followers matches that of many protesters, mentioned Chayanit Choedthammatorn, a Thai researcher of Korean research.

“Though they’re Ok-pop followers, they’re Thai residents first,” she mentioned.

The best spur to motion was an Oct. 16 crackdown when police used water cannon to disperse protesters who had defied a ban geared toward ending protests in opposition to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former military chief, and to demand curbs on the monarchy’s energy.

Removed from the scene, Areeya began a Twitter ballot from her Women’ Era fanbase account with over 17,500 followers to see if they might assist fund the trigger.

Outcomes had been overwhelmingly constructive, she mentioned, as Ok-pop followers had been no stranger to lightning fundraising campaigns – beforehand utilizing them to purchase billboard adverts in public areas to rejoice their beloved artists’ birthdays or album releases.

“Many individuals had been angered by the crackdown and police violence in opposition to unarmed protesters that day. They turned that anger into donation cash,” Areeya, 23, advised Reuters.

In simply 9 hours, Thai followers of the lady group, who referred to as themselves SONEs, raised greater than 780,000 baht ($25,000), together with different Thai Ok-pop fandoms that collectively raised greater than 4 million baht ($128,000) that week.

Areeya and her staff coordinated purchases of protecting tools equivalent to helmets and goggles, organising deliveries to protest websites, and recording every little thing for transparency.

The most important chunk of the donation went to Thai Legal professionals for Human Rights, a non-profit group that supplied professional bono authorized help to greater than 90 protesters arrested since mid-October.

Thai followers of Ok-pop’s greatest names equivalent to BTS, Tremendous Junior, EXO, Blackpink and SHINee additionally mobilised. The artists’ labels, SM Leisure, Massive Hit Leisure, and YG Leisure, didn’t instantly reply to Reuters’ requests for remark.

“We’re proud to assist the trigger we consider in, within the title of somebody we love,” mentioned Jan, 27, who raised greater than 700,000 baht ($22,500) with Tremendous Junior’s fandom E.L.F. in 22 hours.

Thai Legal professionals for Human Rights advised Reuters donations soared.

“We abruptly have greater than 10 million baht ($321,440) in our checking account,” mentioned director Yaowalak Anuphan. “I am amazed by the Ok-pop followers.”

On social media, Ok-pop fan accounts that used to give attention to information about their favorite artists have turned political – selling protest-related hashtags and undermining pro-monarchy hashtags with sarcastic messages and Ok-pop slang.

The presence of Ok-pop followers is seen at protests, as activists wave LED indicators and lightweight sticks, as they might at Ok-pop concert events, and maintain gold-framed footage of music idols that parody portraits of Thai royals.

The followers’ information of South Korea’s historical past and the half popular culture performed in current protests was additionally a supply for inspiration.

Natchapol Chaloeykul, 24, danced at current protests to the sounds of “Into the New World” by Women’ Era – the music sung at pupil rallies that led to the impeachment of former South Korean president Park Geun-hye in 2017.

“Ok-pop followers learn up about South Korea, and after we look again on our nation, we surprise why we will not be the place they’re,” mentioned Natchapol.

“Like within the music, we would like new issues for our nation too.”

($1 = 31.1100 baht)

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