The « Luk Khrugn »
Our little mixed race!
This article published on Thailande-Fr.com concerns many of us, parents of mixed children living in Thailand.
A few years ago, I sometimes heard that these children were more or less accepted (at school for example)... and rather less than more... but from this very recent article, it seems that Thai society is evolving, changing its vision thanks to sportsmen, artists, politicians, famous people...
My daughter who is a "Luk Khrugn" has never told me about this kind of problem, but like all Thai people, she is quite withdrawn and expresses herself very little, so it is difficult to really know.
What is a Luk Khrugn?
Despite its nationalism and apparent conservatism, Thai society is gradually opening up to the world. One of the signs of this openness is the media attention given to the Luk Krung.
A Luk Khrugn (ลูกครึ่ง) - literally half a child - (Luk = child; Khrugn= half or half) is born from the union of a Thai father or mother with a foreigner.
Theoretically, this includes children born to two Asian parents, but the term is generally understood as a child born to a Thai parent and a parent from a region other than East Asia.
According to this definition, the most famous of all Luk Krung is undoubtedly Tiger Woods, although he does not have many emotional ties with Thailand.
Others, on the other hand, have taken advantage of their origin and are present in large numbers in the local media. They are found in music but especially in commercials, TV series and movies.
In TV series, movies, sports...
Thus, in the music industry, the young star Palmy but especially Bird Thongchai and his 25 million records sold (!), the local Johnny Hallyday, are Luk Khrugn.
Others, with exotic names for Thailand, are famous in modeling, movies, commercials or soap operas.
In this category, we can mention Ranee Campen, Rasri Balenciaga, Kimberly Ann Voltemas, Urassaya Sperbund, Nadech Kugimiya, Ann Thongprasom or the Franco-Thai Florence Faivre.
As surprising as it may seem, the two biggest stars of Thai cinema are Luk Khrugn, Mario Maurer and Ananda Everingham.
To convince oneself of the importance of the Luk Khrugnau cinema, let's look at the film Freelance.
The director, the romantic comedy of the year, gave the three main roles to Eurasians: two talented Belgo-Thai, Mai-Davika Hoorne and Violette Wautier, and a famous Franco-Singapouro-Thai actor, Sunny Suwanmethanont.
The phenomenon has recently spread to football with the sporting outbreak of the Swiss Thai Charyl Chappuis - nicknamed Chapouille by the Thais.
A new media darling, he owes his popularity as much to his modeling physique as to his sporting performance.
Since 2013, when he joined the Thai league - he plays in Suphanburi - the former world champion under 17 with Switzerland has already scored five goals after only eight caps with the Thai national team!
But also in politics or nobility
In politics, the Luk Krung are few but they do exist. Let us mention the Ungpakorn brothers, as well as Mechai Viravaidya, former minister and true spearhead of the fight against AIDS in the Kingdom.
Curiously, the Luk Khrugnne are not a commoner phenomenon since even the Thai nobility has some of them. At that time, two sons of King Chulalongkorn married foreigners.
Prince Rangsit, the current king's uncle, married a German woman, giving birth in 1924 to Princess Charulaksana Kalyani Rangsit.
As for Prince Rankit's brother, Chakrabongse Bhuvanath, he married a Ukrainian woman. From this union was born Prince Chula Chakrabongse.
He himself having married a European woman, Mom Ratchawong Narisa Chakrabongse was the result of this union.
Full of life, the latter, whose physique does not prefigure at all that she is Thai, has an official title - Mom Ratchawong - but without being able to claim royal functions.
This does not prevent him from being socially recognized for his charitable activities and through the popularity of his son Hugo, himself a Luk Krung, a star of the Thai music scene.
Another example is Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, born in Lausanne and the current king's first daughter, married an
American, thereby renouncing her prerogatives as a princess.
As a result of this union, Rama IX has two 30-year-old Luk Khrugn daughters.
How can this success be explained?
The media success and popularity of these mixed race people in Thailand is unique in Asia. No other country on this continent, with the exception of the Philippines, offers such visibility to binationals or artists with distant origins.
So how do we explain this phenomenon?
While the Luk Krung saw their numbers increase sharply during the Vietnam War following the stationing of American troops in Thailand, they were initially frowned upon, their mothers being subjected to the sarcasm of the population.
Forms of discrimination may still exist against mixed race people from African-American parents, but over time, from the late 1980s onwards, the perception of Luk Krung in Thai society has evolved.
Previously put aside, some have become icons of fashion and show business.
Today, not everyone becomes a star, but those who succeed are appreciated above all for their physical traits: their light complexion, the shape of their eyes and their nose are their assets.
Beyond their appearance, they are prized by advertisers and major brands for the modern and dynamic image they convey.
As for film directors, they appreciate their artistic sense, their cosmopolitan experience and the confidence they enjoy.
At first glance, this success of the Luk Khrugn goes against Thai nationalism. But on closer examination, their success is undoubtedly a contemporary expression of the assimilationist model of Thai society which, since the 19th century, has been striving to integrate foreigners into the fold of the national community, sometimes indiscriminately.
These halfchildren and their success can also be seen as a perfect reflection of a world in transition, from a fixed and traditional so