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Sinpongsporn, Isaya (2018) Exploring Thai Cultural Identity through the Remakes of Korean Dramas : A Study of Transnational and Hybrid Culture on Thai Television. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis adopts the perspectives of media and cultural studies to interrogate ‘cultural identity’ and ‘cultural hybridity’ through an analysis of the influence of South Korean popular culture on contemporary Thai media production and audience reception. It posits that the deeply hybridized nature of Thai media, especially television drama, can be taken as a starting point to interrogate questions of Thai cultural identity in relation to authenticity, diversity and hybridity. Although Thai media have long been influenced by different cultures, typically from Western and East Asian countries, the official television remakes of foreign materials started as late as 2012 after the influx of South Korean pop culture, or the so-called ‘Korean Wave’, into the country. Hence to explore the features and definitions of Thai culture and to reveal the appropriation of foreign culture, as well as negotiation and reception in Thai contexts, three first remakes of South Korean television dramas in Thai versions, namely The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince, Autumn in my Heart and Full House, are studied through three approaches: textual analysis, interviews with Thai remake directors and focus groups with Thai audiences. The findings from this analysis reveal that none of above-mentioned remakes fully follows the form and content of the original versions. Each has been revised, yet with a differing degree of cultural adaptation based on the directors’ own experiences and understandings of their national culture. In terms of audience reception, although Thai audiences in this study also hold a variety of differing views on Thai culture, they share similar opinions regarding Thai remakes of Korean dramas. To them, television is more of a local than a global medium. No matter how much they appreciate Korean television drama, if it is transformed into a Thai version and is called a Thai product, Thai audiences will expect to see what they believe to be Thai culture rather than other cultures. Thai remakes with a greater degree of localisation prove preferable to remakes that offer less adaptation. Disagreement regarding Thai cultural interpretation from Thai producers and audiences provides evidence that the definition of Thai culture is subjective, variable, and sometimes inseparable from other cultures. Furthermore, it suggests that a definition of ‘true’ or ‘authentic’ Thai culture is difficult to achieve. Despite this, however, Thai culture, by law, is something Thai people feel obligated to preserve. Therefore in order to search for a consensus on the definition of Thai culture or what to preserve, instead of describing Thai culture with tangible criteria and characteristics, this thesis alternatively suggests it is necessary to take into account the dimensions of subjectivity, flexibility and hybridity in viewing Thai culture.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Rachel Harrison
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2020 14:17

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