Thai television soap opera

"Lakorn" redirects here. For other uses, see Lakhon.

Soap operas are a popular genre of Thai television. They are known in Thai as ละครโทรทัศน์ (rtgs: lakhon thorathat, lit. "television play") or ละคร (lakhon, pronounced [la.kʰɔːn], 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.

A lakorn episode is normally 1 hour and a small amount or 30 minutes. When internationally broadcast, the running time is around 45 min. per episode.


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.


Because Thai soap operas present a melodramatic story line 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[2] contends that the recent[2] 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 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 television rating system. The most notable issues were that Thai soap operas are broadcast early in the day and may including content unsuitable for children, such as graphic or violent sexual assault scenes.[3]

In Thai soap operas, rape is often shown as a vehicle for revenge or a path to true love. Critics have called for producers to stop romanticizing the crime as it feeds into the country's culture of gender inequality. A study by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation found that 80 percent of Thai soap operas depicted rape or sexual violence in 2014. Characters who commit sexual violence are rarely held to account and often win the heart of their victim. Directors and producers are often reluctant to change because soap operas depicting sexual violence, nicknamed "slap and kiss", have consistently resulted in higher ratings. "Most television soap operas are adapted from famous old novels containing rape storylines in which female protagonists are raped by male protagonists," says Jaray Singhakowinta, professor of sexuality studies at Bangkok's National Institute of Development Administration. "Some of them are so popular that they have been made into movies and television soap operas more than 10 times since the 1970s." According to Thailand's National Research Institute, about 30,000 rape cases are reported each year. The head of the Teeranat Kanjanauaksorn Foundation, a gender equality group, has suggested that the real number is probably 10 times official figures, as most rape cases never reach the legal system.[4]


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 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.[5] Kwan and Pancake have come out numerous of times to deny that there is any feuding, but actions prove otherwise. Due to their behavior it is rumored that executives for Ch. 7 such as Khun Daeng have called for the women to be disciplined. Kwan and Pancake have been given a 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.


Further information: Censorship in Thailand

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.

A rare censorship appeared in Talay Rissaya when a character's throat got slit with blood everywhere.

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.[6] 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),[7] 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.[8]


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.


List of Thai TV soap operas

List of classic/folk-style series

See also


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