Debut of new Thai K-pop star stirs debate due to her father's political background

Debut of new Thai K-pop star stirs debate due to her father's political background

Sitala, a Thai member of soon-to-debut K-pop girl group H1-KEY / Courtesy of Grandline Group (GLG)

By Dong Sun-hwa

K-pop record label Grandline Group (GLG) has been causing a stir after unveiling a Thai member of its soon-to-debut girl group H1-KEY, with numerous Thai K-pop fans demanding her removal due to her father’s political background.

Critics say on Twitter that member Sitala’s father Tua Saranyu ― a well-known actor and filmmaker ― is a royalist who has been supporting the nation’s military dictatorship and produced a propaganda movie for it. In 2014, the Royal Thai Armed Forces seized power in the Southeast Asian country after staging a coup against the civilian government, causing political instability. This developed into a 2020 protest movement to reform the Thai monarchy.

What added fuel to the fire was Sitala’s latest remarks about her father. In her self-profile released Tuesday, she said he was her “role model,” prompting many to accuse her of supporting the military dictatorship.

“Sitala and her parents supported the dictatorship, which has destroyed the dreams of almost all children of the country,” one online user from Thailand commented. “I think it is not fair for her to debut or be happy.”

Another wrote, “Sitala and her family were involved in the military’s demand for a coup, which should be known to everyone…. The military is destroying democracy by tearing the constitution apart.”

K-pop followers in Korea are divided over the controversy. Some insist Sitala should not be blamed for what her father did, while others claim GLG should oust her from H1-KEY considering K-pop’s big cultural clout over Asia and beyond.

“Isn’t this a case of ‘guilt by association’?” one internet user commented. “I don’t think Sitala should be banned from forging her career here because of her father.”

There were also a slew of contrarian views.

“Considering K-pop’s global influence, I think Sitala’s joining will deal a blow to K-pop’s image and reputation,” one online user wrote.

Another commented, “It seems GLG was aiming to attract Thai K-pop fans to build a fan base for its new girl group, but this is unlikely to work now.”

GLG has not yet commented on the issue.

Meanwhile, H1-KEY, comprising Yel, Seoi, Riina and Sitala, is slated to make its debut Jan. 5.

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