Greg interviews Khun Panarat Anamwathana about the bombing of Bangkok during World War II. Beginning with a discussion about how Thai people today perceive Thailand’s involvement in the Second World War, K. Panarat notes that many Thais’ attitudes are actually shaped by popular culture and specific romantic stories about that time period in Thai history. Most Thais today don’t realize the tragic nature of the conflict and the truly precarious nature of Thailand’s relationship with both Japan and the western powers.
Next, K. Panarat discusses the fascinating role of Seni Pramoj, the Thai Ambassador to the United States and his role in leading the Seri Thai, or ‘Free Thai,’ movement, the pro-Western faction of Thai society. Because of his role, Thailand largely escaped punishment after the West’s victory. We also discuss which areas of the city were bombed, how the locals reacted and what role the government took vs grassroots groups in organizing evacuations.
Greg and K. Panarat also elaborate on the unique role of Prime Minister Phibunsongkhram, one of the more colorful characters in Thai history as mentioned previously on the podcast. In short, although the Prime Minister officially supported the Japanese, he also sought aid from both Britain and America in a complicated game of diplomatic brinkmanship, shades of which you can still see in Thai society, where playing both sides can sometimes be a bit of an artform.
Listen in for more details on what Greg and Ed think is the most fascinating period in Thai history.
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