Bangkok History Highlight: Phlaek Phibunsongkram [Season 3, Episode 27]

2018-09-25T09:31:07+07:00September 26th, 2018|Bangkok History, Bangkok Podcast Season 3|4 Comments

Greg and Ed try something new with the first in a series of episodes that look at interesting events in Bangkok’s history. For this one, they delve into one of Thailand’s most interesting personalities – Phlaek Phibunsongkram.

Phlaek, or simply Phibun, was a military man who gained prominence as a member of the group that organized the 1932 coup that ended absolute monarchy in Thailand. Phibun was enamored with the fascist leaders of Europe and crafted a cult of personality around himself in Thailand. Along with his partner in crime Luang Wichitwathakan, or Wichit, Phibun led an ethno-nationalist movement designed to both define what it means to be ‘Thai’ and to modernize Thailand so that it could join the developing world.

Consequently, Siam’s name was changed to ‘Thailand’ to make clear that a particular type of ancient Chinese immigrant was the true race of the country. But Phibun and Wichit also passed national ‘guidelines’ for using western silverware and even western clothing such as bowler hats for men – not to mention ordering the creation of Thailand’s signature dish, pad thai!

The story only gets weirder and more complicated when the Japanese Army shows up on Thailand’s doorstep in the early days of WWII with an ultimatum for Phibun. In between there are coups, counter-coups, declarations of war, daring escapes, and crafty espionage stories that would be right at home in a Tom Clancy novel – with Phibun usually right in the middle of it all.

Listen in to get the scoop on this thoroughly interesting Thai leader. Trust us – it’s hard to believe some of this even happened!

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  1. Jacob Bjerg Hansen September 29, 2018 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    More about thai history, really nice.
    A listener from Denmark.

    • Greg September 30, 2018 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jacob, we’ll be doing more like this in the future.

  2. TheThailightZone October 1, 2018 at 10:00 am - Reply

    I would love to hear more history. I’d like more specific in depth history stories.

    • Greg October 1, 2018 at 11:04 am - Reply

      Thanks TTZ, we have more like that coming up.

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