Luk Kreung in History and Popular Culture

It has been a while since I’ve explored the influence of luk kreung (i.e. half-Thai people) in popular culture. Today it seems that a great number of part-Thai people are prominent in Thai popular culture. However, this phenomenon is not new considering that the first luk kreung actors appeared in the 1940s to 1960s. This nevertheless, is not widely known nowadays.

In a previous article I’ve also discussed the topic of interracial marriage prior to the later decades of the 20th century mentioning that those relationships were mostly limited to small groups of people in cultural contact zones. However, interracial marriages became more common in the 1960 and 70s in Southeast Asia due to the Vietnam War. Consequently, in that time period more mixed race children were born.

Luk Kreung in History

Now I will take a look back at luk kreungs of another era and provide you a window into the past with some antique photos.

The Bunker Families (1865),

The Bunker Families (1865), Siamese Twins Chang and Eng (

I’d like to begin with a historical example from the 19th century. Of course, you’ve certainly heard of the famous Siamese Twins Chang and Eng Bunker. The Siamese Twins were born 1811 and brought to the US in 1829 where they became known in freak shows. Later, the conjoined twins became American citizens and got married to the sisters Sarah and Adelaide Yates Bunker. In total they had 21 children, one of them was Catherine Bunker. I’m not sure what became of the twins’ children but probably they made a living in the United States.

Catherine Bunker

Catherine Bunker, daughter of the Siamese Twins

Perhaps you also remember the family of Mhom Mali, a Russian lady, and General Mhomjao Thongtekhayu Thongyai? I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that there were a few Thai men of royal heritage who got married to Western women in the early 20th century. Mhom Mali and the General settled in Hua Hin and had four children. Their oldest luk kreung son M.R. Chakthong Thongyai born in 1913, became a prominent politician. He became the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives. Finally, he was also a Senator. Probably, there is no other half-Thai person to achieve this position in the Thai government. He died at the age of 85 in 1998.

Family of Mhom Mali and General Mhomjao Thongyai with their four children

Family of Mhom Mali and General Mhomjao Thongyai with their four luk kreung children

His sister M.R. Pakpring Thongyai, born in 1916 became famous too because she got married to Kukrit Pramoj.

Here is a pic of the younger versions of them...the lukkreung M.R. with the future PM Kukrit Pramoj of Thailand in their younger years

The luk kreung M.R. Pakpring Thongyai with the future PM Kukrit Pramoj of Thailand in their younger years

Kukrit Pramoj was the 13th Prime Minister of Thailand and he was also an actor. Thus, he even acted alongside Marlon Brando in the American movie ‘The Ugly American’ (1963). What is more, Pramoj is the author of the classic Thai novel ‘Four Reigns’ (Si Paendin).

Luk Kreung in Early Popular Culture

I’d like to turn to the amazing Amara Asavananda, a Thai-French actress and beauty pageant girl from the 1950s. There is one picture in which I would have mistaken her for Elizabeth Taylor. She was the 2nd runner-up of Miss Thailand in 1953 and became Miss Universe 1954 in the pageant competition which took place in the US.

Amara Asavananda

Amara Asavananda

Born in 1937 to Luang Prajerd-aksonlak (Sombhoj Asavananda) and Madam Prajerd-aksonlak (Georgette Asavananda), Amara was a well-known actress in Thai movies from the 1950s. Some examples are Prisana (1955), Leb-krut (1957), Rak Rissaya (1958), In-sree Dang (1958), Hao Dong (1958), Toong Ruang Rong (1959), See Kings(1959), Chaleoy Suk (1959,) Sud Pradthana (1961).

Amara Asavananda, Miss Universe 1954

Amara Asavananda, 2nd runner-up of Miss Thailand in 1953

In 1966, she married Police Lieutenant General Ankoon Purananda and eventually she received less acting roles. Later in the 1970s, she still worked as an actress but only got supporting roles. She has two daughters, Apichaya and Anoma. There is another luk kreung actress from that era who is called Kesarin Patamawa. Perhaps she is not as well known as Amara but she is probably Thai-French too. Here they are together in a picture.

Kesarin Patamawa and Amara Asavananda

Kesarin Patamawa and Amara Asavananda

Like Amara, Kesarin was one of the first luk kreung in Thai showbiz and pop culture in the 1950s. She was also an actress who was active in movies from 1958 to 1962. There was one movie from 1962 called ‘กัลปังหา’ in Thai which made her famous.

Kesarin Patamawa

Kesarin Patamawa

Last but not least, there is also a luk kreung politician and Thailand’s leading philanthropist that I’d like to mention here: Mechai Viravaidya, born in 1941 of Thai-Scottish origin. In Thailand he is known as ‘Mr. Condom’ because he promoted not only condoms but also family planning and  sexual-safety awareness in the 1960s and 1970s. Hence, in 1973 he founded a non-profit organization called ‘Population and Community Development Association’ (PDA). His main aim was to improve the living conditions of the rural poor. Eventually, he also founded a restaurant chain called ‘Cabbages and Condoms’ where customers got a condom with the bill. With this project, he wanted to make condoms as common and as accepted as cabbages.

Mechai Viravaidya, Mr. Condom

Mechai Viravaidya, Mr. Condom

Finally, I hope you’ve enjoyed these insights and that I could provide you a window into the past introducing you to some of the first luk kreung people in history and Thai popular culture and politics. Big thanks also to my Thai-American friend Steven Layne for this lead!

‘Chompoo’ Araya Hargate: Thai-British Actress

Araya A. Hargate, born on 28th June 1981, is a famous actress in Thailand. She was born to a Thai-Lao mother and a British father. Thus, she holds Thai and British nationality. At the age of 17 she was discovered and became well-known after the Misens Motor Show Contest. This was also the time when she was a member of the Girl Power Group that organizes sports day. She was the majorette at this Power Group. In fact, Araya is a very sportive person and does yoga to keep her fit.

Chompoo Araya Hargate

Chompoo Araya

Chompoo Araya

She was educated at Kanmanee School and later got a degree from Badindecha school. Her teens where also the time when her acting career started. Nevertheless, she also went to university and got a Bachelor degree in English from Rangsit University.

Today, she is known by her nickname Chompoo which means ‘pink’ in Thai which is also her favourite colour. She is an accomplished and versatile actress who was in numerous Thai lakorns, e.g. in Luk Mai Klai Ton, Plang Prai, Pee Pian Hotel. Her role models are Thai actors like Chatchai Plengpanich and Lalita Panyopas.

Thai-British actress Araya Hargate at Cannes Film Festival

Thai-British actress Araya Hargate at Cannes Film Festival

Thus, the movie that made her famous was Morlum Summer where she starred as the character Anny. Apart from acting, Chompoo is a model and singer who has been in many music videos. Thus for instance in Lux Thailand’s ‘Soft touch with your love’.

What is more, She is know as a fashionista and High Fashion Queen. Thus, she is also an ambassador for L’Oreal Paris. In fact, she is a regular guest at International Fashion Weeks and at the Cannes Film Festival where she stunns everyone with her impreccable style annd stylistic command. She has had some dramatic appearances wearing marvellous gowns on the red carpet which added to her princess moments. She enjoys wearing designer pieces by Channel, Burberry, Dior, Zac Posen and Ashi Studio Couture.

Fashionista 'Chompoo' Araya

Fashionista ‘Chompoo’ Araya

Up until today, she has received more than 50 awards, such as FHM Sexiest Actress in Thailand Awards 2007 – 2010, W Style Awards, Siam Dara Stars Awards, and The Best Actress Awards.  In 2015, Chompoo got married to the wealthy Thai business man Nott Witsarut Rungsisingpipat which was a great media event.

Araya Hargate & Nott Witsarut Rungsisingpipat

Araya Hargate & Nott Witsarut Rungsisingpipat

Summing up we may say that Chompoo Araya Hargate is an impressive woman and an accomplished artist. In addition, she is also a great fashionista.

Yours, Sirinya

(all photos in this article: Araya A. Hargate, FB page)

Pete Thongjure: Thai-American Actor

Pete Puntakarn Thongjure was born in January 1968 in California, USA. He is a famous half-Thai actor and model. His family moved back to Thailand when he was six years old. He is the eldest son of the famous actor and rally car driver Pinyoo Thongjure.

Pete Thongjure

Puntakarn Thongjure (photo: SaReNIE,

‘Pete’ Puntakarn Thongjure (photo: SaReNIE,

Thus, it does not come as a surprise that Pete started acting early in his childhood. What is more, his three younger siblings are also well-known in Thailand. Perhaps you’ve heard of Saifar, NamThansod and NamPoung (Honey) Thongjure.

He first did some Thai TV commericals when he was a kid and soon other opportunities arose. Thus, Pete also got into acting and appeared in his first movie when he was only seven and a half. Hence, at the age of nine he was already co-hosting the show “Pao-ying-shoob”. At the age of 11, he was a popular actor in TV series and movies. However, when he was 13, his parents sent him back to the US for his further education. Today, Pete has been in the Thai entertainment industry for over 30 years and he is still going strong.

Over 30 years in the entertainment industry: Pete Thongjure (photo:

Over 30 years in the entertainment industry: Pete Thongjure (photo:

He was in a number of popular movies and Thai TV series. His first drama was the lakorn ‘Ubattihed’ with half-Thai actress Katarina Glos.

For instance, he starred in the classic ghost story ‘Mae Nak’ (2000) on Channel 7 and he was in horror movies like ‘Bangkok Haunted’ (2001), ‘Lizard Woman’ (2004) and ‘Fan Mai’ (2010) starring alongside Thai movie star Ananda Everingham.

An interesting alternative movie produced by Pete Thongjure is ‘Province 77 Los Angeles’ (2003). He also starred in his movie which is about Thai immigrants in Los Angeles. There is a place called ‘Thai Town’ where most of these immigrants live – hence, it is also referred to the Thai 77th province. The movie draws a grim picture of a Thai family in LA whose restaurant is in danger of being confiscated for unpaid taxes. What is more, it seems hard to maintain traditional Thai values in the environment where gangs rule but finally the family unifies again. By the way, the soundtrack to the movies is by the Thai rap band Thaitanium.

Province 77 movie starring half-Thai actor Pete Thongjure (photo

Province 77 movie starring half-Thai actor Pete Thongjure (photo

Nevertheless, Pete maybe regarded as a rarity the showbusiness being an actor who is introvert and does not like to talk much about himself. He enjoys his privacy and loves quiet and peace. In his view, keeping his privacy has been vital in maintaining such a long career.

The racing driver and actor (photo: Pete Thonchua Fanclub, FB page)

The racing driver and actor (photo: Pete Thonchua Fanclub, FB page)

His proudest acting achievements are his action TV series whom Pete enjoys very much. Nevertheless, he is a passionate racing driver and loves fast cars like his father. Hence, he also has a reality show about his racing career. He loves race driving because it requires precision and concentration. Thus, racing is like meditating since the mind has be stay focussed and quiet.

Today, Pete is father of three children and a true family man. His wife is Wilailak ‘Jeng’ Tongchua. Hence, we may say that Pete Thongjure is truly a versatile actor with a long career and also a popular racing driver.

Yours, Sirinya

Janesuda: Fashion Label by Thai-American Actress Jane Parnto

Janesuda ‘Jane’ Parnto was born 1982 in Thailand to an American father and a Thai mother. She grew up in Thailand and entered the Thai entertainment industry at the age of 14. Jane was in music videos and eventually became a host, VJ at MTV Thailand and an actress. She is also a good friend of Thai-British actress Paula Taylor and the godmother of Paula’s daughter Lyla.


Janesuda - Thai fashion designer*

Janesuda – Thai fashion designer*

Jane has always dreamed of creating her own fashion line and at the age of 19 she made her first try to sell her own t-shirts. Hence, she asked a fabric factory to produce 10 tees for her which they did. Since Jane’s friends liked the shirts very much she gave them all away for free.

Thai-American actress & fashion designer Janesuda Parnto*

Thai-American actress & fashion designer Janesuda Parnto*

In 2012 her fashion label Janesuda was launched. At first, Jane only wanted to create the most comfortable and stylish t-shirt, a piece of clothing that she thinks essential in every woman’s wardrobe. Thus, she created her Signature Tee which became a great success. In her view, a tee can reflect the wearer’s personality. It is all about finding the right fit and style.

Creating the ideal comfortable T-shirt by Janesuda*

Creating the ideal comfortable t-shirt by Janesuda*

Thus encouraged, Janesuda started to create more fashion items and essentials like the Signature Tank (Top) and the Signature Dress. These pieces have in common that they are formfitting, timeless and made from premium cotton.

A Signature Tank Top by Janesuda Parnto*

A Signature Tank Top by Janesuda Parnto*

What is more, Janesuada has also been producing thematic seasonal lines, ranging from casual sundresses to formal evening gowns. Her aim is to create timeless and meaningful fashion that lets the wearer’s personality shine through. Hence, Janesuda is not about following trends 🙂


Her latest collection, AW 2015, is called ‘Make Your Romance’. Personally, I really like this collection because it is very boho, chic, elegant, feminine but also dainty. In fact, it is also romantic and unconventional. There are a lot of flowing dresses and lace tops. Let us dwell on some more of Jane’s creations for ‘Make Your Romance’.



Finally, we can say that Janesuda prefers the imperfect look which she thinks fascinating and creating a lasting impression. Hence, her fashion design is extraordinary, elegant and wearable. I think that she offers something for everyone’s taste whether casual tees or elegant dresses.

Yours, Sirinya

(*All pictures in this post are from Janesuda, FB page unless otherwise stated)

Thai Art & Illustrations by Yasaman Haghighat

The language of creativity has always been my strongest point and I want to be able to express my stories, my background, my fears and my happiness through the language of Art (Yasaman Haghighat)

Yasaman Haghighat is a 27 year-old Thai-Iranian artist born and raised in England. Since her childhood, she has been artistic and very much interested in mythical creatures and fantasy worlds. Hence, her art works are very much inspired by her interest in mythology.

Thai Art by Yasaman Haghighat

Ramakien character Hanuman by Yasaman Haghighat

Ramakien character Hanuman by Yasaman Haghighat

Yas studied English and Theatre.  Thus, she spent most of her time with theatrical societies sewing costumes, painting set and designing marketing and publicity. However, Yas is also an English teacher. Hence, after working in an international school, she went back to her roots and moved to Thailand for three years, where she was a primary school teacher in her home town of Chanthaburi.

Fan with peacock illustration by Yasaman Haghighat

Fan with peacock illustration by Yasaman Haghighat

With her younger students, she did a lot of arts and crafts. For instance, she taught them how to sew, how to create shadow puppets, making art from recycling, drawing still life, fashion shows and much more. While she was in Thailand, she spent a lot of time around temples with her family, who are very traditional Thai. Her grandparents told her many mythological stories from Thailand, which were very inspiring to her.

Buddha illustration by Yasaman Haghighat

Buddha illustration by Yasaman Haghighat

What is more, when her mother bought her a set of Ramayana books, Yas was captivated by all the amazing characters in it. In addition, she saw some Thai dance and the marvellous costumes stuck with her.

Kinnari by Yasaman Haghighat

Kinnari, the half-bird half-human divine musician by Yasaman Haghighat

Yas’ heritage is a Thai mother and an Iranian father – both cultures are full of rich history and mythology. Hence, Yas loves mythology because of all the beautiful morals and ethics they imply. She likes how you can learn the values of a society from reading their ancient stories. That is to say, you can learn about their traditions and honours from a simple nursery rhyme, or a story!

Elephant by Yasaman Haghighat

Colourful elephant by Yasaman Haghighat

Naga, the mythical snake by Yasaman Haghighat naga

Naga, the mythical snake by Yasaman Haghighat

Thus, her main inspiration is story telling which is an important tradition in every culture; Yas has grown up with stories from England, Iran and Thailand. Thus, she likes to spread her mix of culture through her art which is her way of story telling.

Furniture Coffee Table by Yasaman Haghighat

Furniture coffee table by Yasaman Haghighat

Side table with elephant painting by Yasaman Haghighat

Side table with elephant painting by Yasaman Haghighat

Since returning to England this year, she has been slowly working on her art – She hand draws illustrations for greeting cards as well as hand painting fans, furniture and household items such as bowls or coffee coasters.

Coffee coasters by Yasaman Haghighat

Coffee coasters ‘Fruits’ by Yasaman Haghighat

Coasters with elephant painting by Yasaman Haghighat

Coasters with elephant painting by Yasaman Haghighat

Finally, Yasaman Haghighat will be exhibiting her art works in Bristol at the Totterdown Arts Trail. This will be from 20th -22nd November 2015. For more information, please check out her Facebook page: and Twitter:

Yours, Sirinya

Katreeya English: Thai-British Singer & Actress

Katreeya English was born in September 1976 to a British father and a Thai mother in Oxford, England. Hence, Kat English is fluent both in Thai and in English. She started her career as a singer in 1999 and was a very popular face of the new millenium. Kat’s musical style may be described as pop and of course as Thai pop. She was an artist at GMM Grammy from 1999 to 2009.

Katreeya English

Kat English (photo: lostinheaven,

Kat English (photo: lostinheaven,

Apart from being a singer and dancer, Kat is also a successful actress, model and presenter. From 2000 to 2007 she produced a new album every year. Hence, her sound deeply influenced Thai pop of the 2000s like this song called ‘Siamese Kat’ (2003).

When she was a teen, she was discovered by an agent when she walked home from school with her brother. This was when Kat got into making her first commercials and thus her first movie also followed. In 1992, she appeared in the films called ‘A-nueng Kit-teung por Sang-keb’ and ‘Chem laew kor Cham’. However, I find that she is a singer in the first place. Here is one of her very early songs from the 2001 album ‘Kat around the clock’.

From that time on, Kat has had many roles in Thai TV series on Channel 3 and 7. Thus, she had her first break with her early Lakorns in the 1990s like Khun Ying Jom Kaen (1993) in her role of Lady Kantima and Nam Sai Jai Jing from the same year.

Katreeya English, Thai-British singer & actress (photo:

Katreeya English, Thai-British singer & actress (photo:

Kat loves entertaining people and she truly enjoys being famous and a role model for kids. It is important to her that she is able to do the things that she loves doing. She is a great performer and loves big concerts. Thus, Kat has been in Thailand’s biggest concerts of course.

However, Kat did not becomes famous overnight. When she thinks back at her early career she describes it as enjoyable but also stressful. Thus, her success developed gradually and she got to appreciate the different stages of her career. Well, Katreeya never seems to be aging. She is also a model and keeps fit by doing a lot of sports like swimming and gynmastics and she loves working out.

Katreeya English (photo

Katreeya English could be a fitness model (photo:

Until today, she is good friends with other actors like Chakrit Yamnarm (Krit) and half-Thai-Scottish actor Ray McDonald since they went to school together. For instance, their friends used to refer to Chakrit and her as KitKat.

Finally, we may say that Katreeya English is really a great and versatile performer. Her dancing skills are amazing. Today, she is still energetic and going strong in the enertainment industry.

Yours, Sirinya

Jay Montonn Jira: Thai-American Singer & Actor

Jay Montonn Jira is a Thai-American singer and actor. In fact, he is also called a show business ‘allrounder’ with good reason. Born in November 1981 in Hong Kong, he returned to Thailand as a kid with his family and went to school there until grade 11. Then he moved to California to complete high school.

Jay Montonn Jira

Thai-American singer & actor Jay Montonn Jira*

Thai-American singer & actor Jay Montonn Jira*

However, in his youth, he already won a talent competition at the age of ten. Since then he has been working in the Thai entertainment industry. By the age of 13, Jay was also doing some modelling and a few years later when he was 17, he was a lead actor in Thai TV series and movies.

However, Jay sees himself primarily as a musician and has been pursuing his musical career for some years now. He recorded his first album after completing high school and returning to Thailand. The album is called ‘J’.

What is more, he is also a DJ, arranger, composer and producer. Nevertheless, Jay acted in a number of Lakorns where he played both good and bad guys. For instance, he was in the drama ‘Sai Tarn Hua Jai’ with Ae Isariya Saisanan on Channel 7.

Montonn Jira*

Jay Montonn Jira*

Another drama Jay was in is ‘Look Poo Chai Hua Jai Petch’ starring alongside singer Hugo Chakrabongse Levy and Namfon Kullanat. In addition, Jay starred in the Thai movie ‘Pop Star’ (2006). As far as films are concerned, Jay has also written movie scores. For instance, he was an assitant editor for the ‘Lion King’.

In fact, he studied music composition and electronic music production in the US. In 2007 he was the musical director and programmer for Neptune. Thus, he toured around the world performing with international stars like Jusitin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. This was also when he performed at ‘Live Earth’, a gigantic concert event in New Jersey.

Jay Montonn Jira*

Jay Montonn Jira*

However, he has also worked with Thai artists like Modern Dog, Siam Secret Service and The Crub, for instance. Today, he has his own music label called ‘Samut Prakarn Sound’. Most recently, he is performing with Hanna L. Bengtsson producing charming and beautiful songs like ‘The Way’ and ‘Be True’.

Finally, we may say that Jay Montonn Jira is an international half-Thai artist. Even though he is a great actor, he sees himself primarily as a musician with good reason and sings both in English and in Thai.

Yours, Sirinya

Paula Taylor: Thai-British Actress

Paula Taylor is a popular half-Thai actress, model and presenter born in January 1983. Her real name is Punlapa Margaret Taylor but in the entertainment industry she is known as ‘Paula Taylor’. Her father is of British descent and her mother is Thai-Chinese.

Paula Taylor

Paula Taylor, Thai-British actress*

Paula Taylor, Thai-British actress*

She was born in Bangkok but then her family moved back to Australia where she grew up in Perth until the age of nine. Eventually her parents divorced and thus Paula moved to Brisbane. She is very comfortable and happy with being a luk kreung because she claims to have had the best of both worlds.

In her teens, Paula went to visit her family in Thailand. That was when she got into contact with the Thai entertainment industry. At the beginning of her career, she did some modelling, appeared in TV commercials and acted in small Thai movies.

Paula Taylor*

Paula Taylor: Thai-British actress, model and presenter*

After being discovered by TV producer Tanawat Wansom and becoming a media personality, she also starred in the Thai romance comedy film ‘Ruk Jung’ The Memory (2006) in the role of Jaa. Thus, she became well-known not only as a TV hostess but also as an actress.

Hence, in 2011 Paula had her Hollywood debut in the Thai-American supernatural thriller ‘Hellgate’. She had the role of Som Mathews starring next to William Hurt and Cary Elwes. What is more, she was also in a number of music videos like for instance ‘Mark mai’ by Bie the Star.

Before this Hollywood movie, she participated in ‘The Amazing Race Asia 2’ thus gaining more popularity in other Southeast Asian countries. Thus, for instance she has also appeared on the Philippine TV Sunday variety show. In addition, today she also produces videos giving some make up tips for a daily look, for example.

Paula lives in Thailand now and still does Thai TV commercials and television guest appearances. In 2010 she got married to Edward Buttery who is of Anglo-Chinese descent. She has two children, a daughter born in 2011 named Lyla Jane Buttery and a son called Luca Christopher Buttery born in 2015.

Paula Taylor and her daugther Lyla Jane*

Paula Taylor and her daugther Lyla Jane*

Hence, Paula has also done a few videos with her daughter. Like this charming video, where she prepares cupcakes with the little ones. It really seems fun and Paula is enjoying herself in the role of a mother. What is more, today she also runs a clothing line for children called ‘Paula and Baby’.

Finally, I think that Paula Taylor is an admirable, successful half-Thai actress who is also a devoted mother. What more could one want? 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

(*all photos in this post, credit: Paula Taylor FB page)

Nadech Kugimiya: Thai-Austrian Actor

For some years now, half-Thai actor and model Nadech Kugimiya has been a popular face in Thai media and the entertainment industry. Hence, he is famous on Channel 3. I think there is hardly any Thai teenager who does not know him. As a devoted reader of my blog, you may know that I have dealt with him shortly in my article about Nadech & Yaya. Nonetheless, there is of course a lot more to say about him seen individually 🙂

Nadech Kugimiya

Nadech (photo credit: Nadech Kugimiya FC, FB page)

Nadech (photo credit: Nadech Kugimiya FC, FB page)

Nadech, nicknamed Barry, was born 1991 in Khonkaen and his original name was Chonlathit Yodprathum. He is considered to be of Thai-Chinese and Austrian descent. At the beginning of his career there was some confusion about his origins and background because people generally assumed that he must be part-Japanese because of his last name ‘Kugimiya’. What is more, he also has the appearance of a Japanese manga character with his light complexion, thick eyebrows and doe eyes 🙂

However, Barry was brought up by his aunt Sundarat and her husband, the Japanese Yoshio Kugimiya. Nadech adores his Japanese foster father and this is the reason why he himself claims to be half-Japanese, even though he is not. However, Nadech does not know Japanese but speaks fluently in Thai and Isan dialect.

Barry (photo credit:

‘Barry’ Nadech Kugimiya (photo credit:

Barry was discovered at the age of 16 and has been working as a model, actor and singer since then. Up until today, he has been in numerous Thai commercials and on magazine covers. For example, he was in commercials like Trident chewing gum with actress Pachrapa Chaichua, Shokubutsu shower cream for Men, Samsung Monte 3G, Yamaha Fino, Baoji shoes and Lays with Thai-Norwegian actress ‘Yaya’ Urassaya Sperbund.

What is more, he was the first brand ambassador and brand presenter for Thai Air Asia. He was also a surprise guest flight attendant serving snacks to the delighted passengers in 2014 🙂

Nevertheless, Barry is not only a ‘pretty face’ – he has been studying Communication Arts at Rangsit University. Hence, most recently he has presented his short film ‘Mr. Peter’s Project’ which is a work to complete his B.A. at Rangsit. The film is concerned with the Nan’s forest conservation. Hence, Barry’s aim is to raise an awareness of deforestation. Here is the film, though only available in Thai.

Nadech has been in numerous TV series and films since 2010 when he debuted in Ngaorak Luangjai.  Furthermore, he gained  popularity with his work in the series 4 Hua Jai Haeng Khun Khao (Duang Jai Akkanee or Akkanee’s Heart). He played the character of Fai Akkanee Adisuan starring alongside Urassaya Sperbund.

Nadech & Yaya in Akkannee's Heart (photo credit:

Nadech & Yaya in Akkanee’s Heart (photo credit:

What is more, he was in Gamerai Gamerak or Love Game Evil Game as “Saichon/Charles Makovich” and in The Rising Sun series also starring alongside Yaya Urassaya. He had a very popular role in Sunset at Chaophraya (Khu Kam, 2013) playing the Japanese engineering officer Kobori who falls in love with a nationalistic Thai beauty called Angsumalin. He also sang the song to this movie.

Hence, it does not come as a surprise that he also won Best Actor from Starpics Thai Film Award for his role of Kobori in Sunset at Chaophraya. This is really well-deserved!

Finally, we may say that Nadech Kugimiya is certainly one of the hottest luk kreung actors in Thailand at the moment. With good reason, he can be called Mr. Everywhere because he is frequently spotted on magazine covers, in television commercials, billboards and soap operas. You cannot escape Barry, thus you must love him 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

Luk Kreung and the Construction of Thainess

Cultural studies have explored the relationship between farang and Thai national identities or Thainess. These studies put forward that since the 1950s and the beginning of the 21st century, foreign influences have intensified to intimate levels of cultural and physical hybridization. Thus, in the form of Thai-farang or luk kreung, foreign otherness seems to have become an object of cultural intimacy in Thailand.

Luk kreung & Thainess

We may say that as a post-Vietnam War era phenomenon, cultural intimacy between Thai and farang have increased, hence exceeding the forms of cultural contact in previous generations. Thus, interracial marriages have become a widespread social phenomenon since then, although these kind of unions, and hence luk kreung people, have been known since the Ayutthaya period.

Prince Chula & Elizabeth Hunter (photo credit:

The half-Thai Prince Chula Chakrabongse & his English wife Elizabeth Hunter (photo credit:

In earlier times, i.e. prior to the later decades of the 20th century, interracial marriages were generally limited to small groups of people. These were persons who were in the main cultural contact zones (e.g. Christians, Chinese) and who worked closely with Europeans.

Ekaterina Desnitska and Chakrabongse Bhuvanath (photo credit:

Ekaterina Desnitskaya, Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanath and son Chula (photo credit:

Nevertheless, there were some rare cases in which Thai and European unions occurred among royals or the elite. For instance, think of Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanath (Prince of Bisnulok) and his Ukranian wife Ekaterina ‘Katya’ Desnitskaya and their half-Thai son Prince Chula Chakrabongse.

Prince Rangsit, his wife Elizabeth and their three children (photo credit:

Prince Rangsit, his wife Elisabeth and their three children (photo credit:

Another prominent example is the racially mixed marriage between Prince Rangsit Prayurasakdi and the German lady Elisabeth Scharnberger. They had three children, two sons and a daughter called Princess Charulaksana Kalyani Rangsit.

Princess Charulaksana Kalyani Rangsit (born 7 August 1924) (photo credit: Seissenshi,

Princess Charulaksana Kalyani Rangsit (born 7 August 1924) (photo credit: Seissenshi,

In fact, there were a few Thai men of royal descent who married Western women at the beginning of the 20th century. For instance, there was Lady Ludmilla Ivanovna Barsukova from Russia who was married to General Mhomjao Thongtekhayu Thongyai. They had four children together and stayed in Hua Hin. Lady Ludmilla, who is probably of Russian royal lineage, lived in Thailand until she died in 1980 at the age of 90. Her Thai name was Mhom Mali.

Lady Ludmilla & Prince Thongyai with their four children in Hua Hin (photo credit:

Lady Ludmilla & Mhomjao Thongtekhayu Thongyai with their four children in Hua Hin, 1921 (photo credit:

Thai-farang relationships first became a common social practice since the 1960s when American GIs were stationed at the US military bases in upcountry Thailand. Hence, some of them formed relationships to Thai women who mostly stemmed from the countryside. As a consequence, a remarkable numer of half-Thai people were born who also became a prominent topic in novels, movies and TV series during the 1960s and 70s.

The most significant novels dealing with Thai attitudes to luk kreung were Sifa’s ‘Khao nork na’ (1976, Wild Rice or literally translated ‘Rice Outside the Paddy Field’) and Botan’s ‘Phuying khon nan cheu Bunrort’ (‘That Woman’s Name Is Bunrort’) which was published in 1981. You might recall my previous article about ‘Luk kreung and Concepts of Mixed Race in Thailand’, then you know that the luk kreung from the Vietnam War era were not regarded as desirable.

The Siam Renaissance (photo credit:

The Siam Renaissance – luk kreung as representatives of Thainess (photo credit:

However, this perception has changed since the 1980s. Generally, it seems that Thailand has discovered Thai-farang as representatives of a modern form of Thainess. For example, the movie ‘The Siam Renaissance’, starring Thai-French actress Florence Faivre, deals with this subject. The movie reveals how the concept of the powerful West is stripped of its foreignness in order to become part of modern Thai identity.

The Thai-ization of the farang (photo credit:

The Thai-ization of the farang in the Siam Renaissance (photo credit:

What is more, cultural anthropologist Jan R. Weisman argues that the luk kreung boom reveals the Thai fascination with half-Thai people, a phenomenon related to issues of modernity, sexuality and race. In this way, Thai-farang is presented as being cosmopolitan, thus being able to act on a global stage. Hence, the general popularity of Eurasian luk kreung have also strengthened the allure of farang in popular culture that manifested first in the late 19th century with the Siamese strive for ‘siwalai‘ or ‘civilized’ things.

Summing up, we may claim that the present popular cult of the European-Thai luk kreung shows that they are very important in constructing a modern Thai identity which is also referred to as Thainess.

Yours, Sirinya

(Reference: Rachel V. Harrison & Peter Jackson eds. The Ambiguous Allure of the West. Traces of the Colonial in Thailand, 2010)