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Thai television soap opera

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Title: Thai television soap opera  
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Subject: Kumbakkarai Falls, Ancient Egyptian deities, The Basement Tapes, Rudd Concession, Persecution of Zoroastrians
Collection: Television Genres, Thai Media, Thai Television Soap Operas
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Thai television soap opera

Soap operas are a popular genre of Thai television. They are known in Thai as ละครโทรทัศน์ (rtgslakhon thorathat, lit. "television play") or ละคร (lakhon, pronounced , or lakorn). They are shown generally at prime-time on Thai television channels, starting at 20:30. An episode of a prime-time drama is two hours long including commercials. Each series is a finished story, unlike Western "cliffhanger" dramas, but rather like Hispanic telenovelas.[1]

A series will run for about three months. It may air two or three episodes a week, the pattern being Monday–Tuesday, Wednesday–Thursday, or Friday–Sunday. A channel will air three soap operas simultaneously at any given time (each producing their own series). Channels will compete for the most popular stars as they attract the most viewers. Some examples are channel 3, 5, and 7.

While the "best" series are shown at night right after the news, the ones with a smaller profiles (and shorter run time) will be shown in the evenings from 17:00–18:00. In some cases, the most popular prime-time series are shown on re-runs a couple of years after their initial release, generally in the afternoon.


  • Characters 1
  • Negative influence 2
  • Evolution 3
  • Novel adaptations 4
  • Folk stories 5
  • Actors 6
  • Law 7
  • International broadcasts 8
  • Genre 9
  • Remake 10
  • Sequel 11
  • Records 12
  • List of Thai TV soap operas 13
  • List of classic/folk-style series 14
  • See also 15
  • References 16
  • External links 17


Thai soap operas have very distinctive, though formulaic, characters, and narrative conventions. Though some stray from these conventions, most adhere to them, especially ones that are very popular among Thai viewers.

  • The series' main goal is to achieve a perfect ending where the lead characters marry their soulmates, and live happily ever after.
  • The two main lovers are established at the beginning of the story. Viewers will have no difficulties at singling them out from the crowd. They tend to be the most popular soap opera stars at the moment. The male lead role is called Phra Ek (พระเอก), and the lead female role is called Nang Ek (นางเอก).
  • The presence of one "bad" female character, sometimes more, is commonplace. This person is completely in love with the male lead, and will do anything necessary to stop the two would-be lovers from fulfilling their fairy tale ending. She does everything in her power to become the main actor's girlfriend, and continually attempts to get rid of main actress. She is often a stereotypical character who does not hesitate to do very bad things to the main actress, including trying to steal her boyfriend before the wedding. She is often a rich girl, comes from a good background, has a nasty behaviour, and is manipulative. Few of these characters are kind. She is usually a living person, but a few of these characters can be evil, dead women who come back as ghosts. The most popular ones are Poot Mae Nam Khong or the remake of Pob Pee Fa. Nang Rai or Nang Itcha (นางอิจฉา) is a famous name for Thai viewers.
  • In the end, all conflicts in the story must be resolved. Everyone forgives each other. The "bad" guys receive their punishments, and the "good" guys receive their rewards. However, some series end with unsolvable problems such as Poot Mae Nam Khong.
  • Thai soap operas are often melodramatic to the point of becoming camp. Most productions are written and produced with the assumption that the more melodramatic it is, the better. This is why situations are grossly exaggerated, actions are overly theatrical, and screams and shrieks (from the bad female) numerous.

Negative influence

Because Thai soap operas present a melodramatic storyline featuring simple one-dimensional characterizations to capture the broadest viewership and commercial sponsorship, they generally do not foster critical insight, reasoning or problem-solving skills, nor a multi-perspective consideration of the human drama being viewed. They are simply an attempt to create dramatic tension and a "showdown" between the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s).

Several series adhere to this simple format which, over an extended period, may cause some viewers to develop a skewed view of reality. At least one critic contends that the recent political problems in Thailand may be at least partially attributable to the negative influence of soap operas, surmising that it is the disregard of common sense and common human wisdom that causes people to shy away from thinking critically and, as a result, becoming prone to manipulation.

In 2008, Thai Airways flight attendants urged the government to remove a prime-time TV drama (Songkhram Nang Fah) because it showed women flight attendants in short-skirted uniforms fighting while over a male pilot. They complained the soap opera portrayed their job in a negative light.

In 2010, at a seminar held by the Christian Council of Thailand, issues were raised involving Thai soap operas and the rating system on Thai television. The most notable issues being Thai soap operas being broadcast early in the day, and may including content unsuitable for children. Such as graphic or violent sexual assault scenes.[2]


Most Thai soap operas portray the upper class of Thai society, usually through the male lead, but sometimes from both leads. The male lead is usually rich, like Phak in Dao pra sook. Early on, the male leads were nobility, usually junior princes, such as a Mom Chao, because, back then, these were the rich people in Thai society. The rich male has since evolved into businessmen from influential families. This change mirrors the change in Thai society with the upper class now filled with business people and not so much from the royal and noble classes.

Novel adaptations

Most, if not all, Thai soap operas are based upon novels. Romance abounds in Thai literature scenes and most have the perfect boy-meets-girl scenario. The ever famous, Dao pra sook, is also a novel while another 1994's Silamanee was clearly inspired by the novel of the same name.

Folk stories

Thai television soap operas have contributed to popularize the spirits and legends of the folklore of Thailand. Some soap operas, such as "Raeng Ngao", include the popular ghosts in Thai culture interacting with the living, while others are based on traditional Thai legends and folk tales such as "Nang Sib Song", "Kaki" and "Thep Sarm Rudoo".


Actors and actresses, referred to in Thai language as dara (stars) ดารา, are usually cast in the same roles over and over again. An actress who plays the lead female would assume the same role.

Suvanant Kongying still plays the female lead. The same goes for other roles, such as the friend of the main leads, the bad characters, the servant characters, the mother characters, and others. An "upgrade" or "downgrade" does occur, such as when a female lead assumes the role of the mother, but this is quite rare. Num Sornram Theppitak still plays the leading male character. Kob Suvanant Kongying and Num Sornram Theppitak were the highest paid TV actress and actor in Thailand in the 1990s. However in the past 10 years a new actress has reigned as highest paid in Thailand, Pachrapa Chaichua of Ch. 7 and Ann Thongprasom of Ch. 3.

This trend causes problems for the female actors in the leading roles as they age. Thai audiences seem to like their leads young and beautiful and many past female daras have disappeared from the screen once they reach the age of 30 or so. A few defy this norm, such as Marsha Wattanapanich, and even then, she is gradually disappearing. Her latest TV series was 2002's Baung Ban Ja Torn (The Enchanted Bed), which became top rated.

This problem is not as bad for male actors, as can be seen in the prolific career of veteran actor Chatchai Plengpanich. His wife, the once famous Sinjai Plengpanich, has all but disappeared, except for the few commercials seen in primetime.

Among the younger crowd are leading actress's such as Kwan Usamanee and Pancake Khemanit who have continued to grab ratings despite their Ongoing Feud[3] Both Kwan and Pancake have come out numerous of times to deny that there is any feuding, but actions prove otherwise. Due to their improper behavior it is rumored that executive's for Ch. 7 such as Khun Daeng has called both girls in to be disciplined. Both Kwan and Pancake although are young have been given high spotlight due to their feuds and their romantic links to other celebrities such as Golf, a famous singer from the duo better known as Golf Mike. Pancake has been linked to romantic interests such as leading actor Weir Sukollwat Pra'ek best known from his role in the series Pleng Ruk Rim Farng Korng.


Thailand has strict censorship laws on films containing nudity, sexual intercourse, smoking opium, or which might offend religious sensibilities. There are no classifications to rate films for different ages so censors often obscure scenes by scratching the celluloid or smudging it with a translucent gel. When actors are playing cards in TV series, a sentence displays that playing cards with money is forbidden by the law.

On Thai television, Chinese, Japanese, American, and Indian films are broadcast. No sex is shown on Thai television, but violence is not uncommon.

Some series are subject to a rating. Most of BBTV Channel 7 programs are usually rated as G-18 (children under 18 should seek parental guidance).

International broadcasts

Thai TV soap operas are popular overseas in countries such as Cambodia and Laos.[4] Several Cambodian television channels air Thai soap operas instead of their local ones. Dao Pra Sook was the most popular series for Khmer viewers. However, to release lakorn had banned at the early of 2003 but released back in the same years. The sale of Thai soap operas is still allowed in Cambodia, but television stations do not air them.

Thai TV soap operas have begun to become popular in Singapore as Nang Tard released well in that country. They are broadcast in Singapore one or two weeks after airing in Thailand. Malaysia used to broadcast some Thai soaps with considerable success, but currently Thai soap operas are almost absent on local television, but are sold on DVDs 2–3 months after the broadcast on Thai television. Vietnam's VTV1 broadcasts Thai soap operas one day after showing in Thailand, usually not dubbed or subtitled.

The popularity of Thai soap operas in European and the US markets is on the rise.

According to China Radio International, many Thai soap operas are aired in China (translated by dubbed into Chinese language),[5] mostly on Anhui Television.

Thai soap operas were also broadcast in the Philippines for a short while in 1998, but were cancelled due to low ratings.

Thai soap operas are available in Nepal alongside English language, Hindi, Korean and Chinese dramas.[6]


Each series incorporates various dramatic elements such as horror or comedic sub-plots. However, due to the popularity of love stories, all series feature a love story. None do not.


Since the late 1990s, Thai soap operas are often remakes of old series but with new actors and minor modifications in the scenario. To have new variations on the same themes, producers add supplementary sex, violence and vulgarity. The tradition of the remake in Thai soap opera Society begin with the famous series. The introduction of remakes refer to 1995's Sai Lohit (Bloodline) with famous Sornram Teppitak and Suvanant Kongying which then followed by Prissana which produced in 2000. Dao Pra Sook also had a remake in 2002.

In addition, toward early of 2000, Horror genre soap operas became well known with remaking which started by Tayat Asoon, a witch and black magic soap opera starring Sinjai Plengpanich.

Another recent remake, Poot Pee Saward, Poot Mae Nam Khong and Susan Khon Pen, the both love story and ghost story including Pob Pee Fa and Dome Tong remake are begin announce. But the too much remake required by audience to disappoint in reason of its too much special effect and unbelievable if compared to the original.

However, a 2008 remake from 1994's series, Silamanee, rather became a hit and received positive response from audiences in spite of the first disappointing of the horror remake. The attraction of this remake was due to the new costume design and the actress lead was Suvanant Kongying. It was noted as the most beautiful series of the year.


All soap opera series do not have another season but may be followed by sequel. The Thai hit series, Girl in The Glass Lamp, based on Indian legend Aladdin, had a sequel but with different casting. This series found as only sequel until 2000's hit, Angkor, released its sequel in the late of 2006. Meanwhile, a remake of Poot Mae Nam Khong is planning to produce a sequel after the question for audience appeared on its ending. One of the highest rating series of all time, Kom Faek now announced its sequel as well. Sawan Biang is one of the two series with the highest rating of all time. The lakorn's leads were played by the talented Ann Thongprasom and Ken Theeradeth, although no sequel is in sight.


  • Dao Pra Sook became the most popular series in the 1990s and one of the first of leading the Thai soap opera reputation into aboard screen within the highest rate drama at 1994 including several foreign release. The highest rated country after Thailand, is Cambodia with giving the nickname for Suvanant Kongying as the morning star as well as the title of the series.
  • Susan Khon Pen is a series which mostly remake as at least three times just in only one channel.
  • Sisa Marn is noted the scariest series along with Pob Pee Fa and Tayat Asoon.
  • In 2008, Kom Faek set the record for the highest rated Thai soap opera in history as well as for BBTV Channel 7, with almost 15 million viewers.[7]
  • Kaew Tah Pee has proved to be one of the most beloved series amongst international fans.

List of Thai TV soap operas

List of classic/folk-style series

See also


  1. ^ Fredrickson, Terry. "Thai Soap's Still The Viewers Favourite". Bangkok Times. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  2. ^ "Young people need protection from bad soap operas". The Nation. The Nation. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Ongoing Feud, Tina's Thai All Star Blog.
  4. ^ Laos
  5. ^ "จีน-ไทยกระชับความร่วมมือในด้านวัฒนธรรมและสังคม".  
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1]:t-pegeat. Accessed January 15, 2008
  8. ^ Waen Sawat - Ch7 Facebook

External links

  • Thai TV Drama at eThaiCD
  • Sarn World
  • Thai TV on Thai World View
  • Iheart Lakorn
  • EnTinaMent
  • Darkness Lakorns (lakorn translations)
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