Opinion: Is it wrong to cancel Sitala? Is the internet’s anger justifiable?

Over Tuesday night, Thai netizens went after a 23-year-old Thai-born K-pop star for participating in pro-military, anti-democratic protests in 2014 when she was only 16.

The daughter of famous late actor, Sarunyoo Wongkrachang,  a staunch royalist and pro-coup figure was primed to debut as member of a new K-pop girl band #H1KEY.

But she now faces a huge blowback from young Thai K-pop fans for her father’s involvement in PDRC protests in 2014. 

So far the rush to hate on her has created a huge wave of interest. The hashtag #Sitala is now trending on Twitter with over 3 million shares. 

When Sitala Wongkrachang, the potential new K-pop star from H1-KEY girl group, made her appearance on November 30, she told Korean media that her late father was her role model. She said that it’s all because of him that she developed her passion to build a career as an artist. 

“I am proud to be a fighter like my father,” she spoke to the media.

Youthful anger

While Sitala has the privilege to live out her dreams, other young activists her age are currently held in prison. Photos of Sitala and her family at the PDRC protests were released everywhere on the internet. Many were upset that she was seemingly rewarded for ushering in the military government and then being able to pursue a glamorous career.

They compare her success to others hers age that have been weighed down by the current autocratic system.

Netizens pointed to the hundreds of activists and dissidents who have been prosecuted on serious criminal charges since the military coup took power in 2014.

And it’s true, young protesters’ dreams and futures have been ripped away from them. They have lost months or years of their lives. The sentiment is clear, people are angry.

Sitala sits in her ivory tower as thousands of people her age are struggling to survive. Some of the youth are battling with police in Din Daeng, or have joined paramedic groups struggling to contain new outbreaks of Covid. 

The anger is understandable.

Perspective needed

But Sitala was only 16 years old, still a child, when she joined the rallies against Yingluck’s government. And due to her young age at the time, she probably didn’t fully understand the weight of her involvement. But regardless, her appearance at protests have struck netizens with outrage. Much of her generation sees her support of her father as not only bad style, but worthy of their cancelling rage.

And for many hopeful democracy supporters, this was yet another slap in the face. Let the social guillotine fall, they say. 

Some expressed surprise that Sitala is becoming a public figure in  Korea, a democratic country, when so many people her age are suffering. 

Thailand’s youth are keeping the country’s heart alive. It’s this stark contrast that has struck a nerve with so many young Thais. And now some young leaders are facing massive consequences for their speech. Some say this alone is enough not to support Sitala. They say her family was involved in destroying the dreams of millions of youth in Thailand. 

Many now are frustrated that she has never apologized and believe that she shouldn’t be featured as an idol for her problematic views.

For those who don’t see enough reason to boycott her, think about the families who were harassed and threatened by the state just for giving speeches.

Netizens are outraged as they believe it’s important to not let people who contributed to the country’s downfall go without consequence. It’s understandable. But everybody has a past. And we must have some degree of sympathy for bad choices people made in their youth. 

It’s also important to note that we don’t want her hurt, strip of her speech, or any kind of violation to her privacy and or human rights. We have seen enough of this over the last few years. 

But what we can do is choose to not support her fully while still having empathy for her. We can choose to refrain from sharing her music in the hope that people will be more aware. We can only hope that others like her will be more conscious of their actions today, so that tomorrow the implications of their choices will not ultimately become so destructive. 


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