Kanatip “Loukgolf” Soonthornrak, a celebrity thought leader and talk-show host, announced Monday that he is officially leaving the Thai entertainment industry, citing its rigid refusal to foster thoughtful political conversations, especially during the coronavirus crisis.
“I would like to announce my departure from the entertainment industry,” Loukgolf shared to his millions of followers on Facebook.“If this space is going to be so silent, then I do not wish to waste anymore time in it. From now on, please no longer view me as a celebrity or someone from the entertainment industry.”
Later Monday, he added: “To further expand on the word silent, I am directly referring to the failure to speak out about the disaster in managing the current crisis, the refusal to discuss the government as circumstances would allow.”
He asked that he no longer be contacted for endorsements or entertainment work, and said he would be ending his show at the end of the month.
Loukgolf’s post immediately went viral, with support pouring in from netizens of all backgrounds, and was picked up by local media nationwide. The hashtag #KruLoukgolf (teacher Loukgolf) is also trending on Twitter Thailand
“I would like to applaud you for being so courageous and upstanding,” one commenter wrote. “You are truly the definition of a role model.”
“Thank you for speaking up and doing what is right,” another wrote. “Thank you for being a celebrity for the people, who truly listens to the voices of all people.”
In his post, the 36-year-old also asked for the Thai media to no longer label him as a “celebrity”, while expressing his wish for his announcement not to be considered news. “Spend your time instead saving the people,” the post said.
However, netizens continued to share his story on Monday afternoon. Many commended Loukgolf as one of the first mainstream celebrities to express such a powerful political statement while sacrificing his career in the process, something practically unknown in the Thai entertainment industry.
This is not the first time that the sassy “edutainer” has spoken out politically to question the Thai government. Over the past couple weeks, Loukgolf has been the subject of numerous viral headlines for his political expressions and stance against the Prayut government and its mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic.
Loukgolf, more commonly known as Kru Loukgolf (teacher Loukgolf), is a 36-year-old Thai radio host, MC, actor, producer and teacher known for his online show LG & Friends, and English tutoring academy ANGKRIZ.
Due to his quick wit, talent, powerful personality, and openness in fostering conversations in the mainstream and celebrity arena, such as discussing the social stigma and experience of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, for years Loukgolf has been dubbed as one of the most important voices of his generation.
He was never the one to shy away from politics either. Loukgolf was one of the celebrities who came out to protest against the now-ousted Yingluck government during the 2014 PDRC protests. He has long been dubbed as dara salim (salim celebrity, a reference to a multi-coloured dessert with a meaning close to ‘turncoat’) by the majority of the public, supposedly for first supporting the military coup that brought in the Prayut government.
Over the past months Loukgolf has admitted earlier mistakes and expressed a change of heart, which many fans have found laudable.
“A whistle was once seen as hope. It was used as a symbol of democracy,” the 36-year-old confessed earlier in July, in reference to the whistles blown by anti-Yingluck protestors.
“I was in one of those small groups and it felt right at the time. After a few years, I realised I was wrong… I made a mistake. I was deeply sorry. I decided to choose democracy once again because I couldn’t side with any form of dictatorship. It was hard to admit that I was wrong but that’s how democracy works!”
“On the spectrum of democracy, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and that’s fine. That’s the beauty of having democracy. But if you choose to be on the spectrum of dictatorship, you have already lost without fighting. The choice is yours,” the post ended.
Earlier, the now-former celebrity also spoke of his disappointment and heartbreak in choosing and trusting Thailand’s Democrat Party in progressing the country forward. The party is now in coalition with Prayut’s Palang Pracharath Party.
Since then, Loukgolf has been one of the strongest voices in the entertainment industry in talking about politics and criticizing the government–something which was once taboo in Thai celebrity culture.The 36-year-old has shared news, charities, and updates, as well as hosting a Facebook Live session discussing Thai politics with leading political professors Prajak Kongkirati and Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang on Sunday evening.
As of Monday evening, post has been shared over 120,000 times, with #KruLoukgolf trending and tweeted over 509,000 times.