Letter From Bangkok

Thai folklore with a twist sparks debate about feminism

Thai drama turns tale of a helpless woman torn between 2 men to one of female empowerment

Thailand’s Channel One31 was lauded for trying to break boundaries and advocating gender equality. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM ONE31/YOUTUBE
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Once upon a time in ancient Thailand, there lived three childhood friends: Chang, Phaen and Wanthong. Chang, rich but ugly, was devoted to Wanthong the beauty. Wanthong, however, loved Phaen, the dashing village boy with a flair for spells. Phaen became a decorated warrior who amassed many wives, but still tried to claim Wanthong.

The love triangle, which unfolds over decades and involves intrigue, abduction and rape, ends when the king demands Wanthong make a choice. Wanthong cannot say which man she wants to be with. She is executed.

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