Thai television and 'pleeng luuk tung'

The role of television in the Isan cultural revival


  • James Leonard Mitchell Macquarie University



Popular Music, pleeng luuk tung, television, Thailand, Isan


Ubonrat Siriyuvasak argues that the Thai television industry is dually structured to support state ideology and propagate consumerism. This article proposes that television has, in spite of its structure, helped to empower the large Isan minority in Thailand through the popular song genre pleeng luuk tung. Luuk tung, or Thai country music, is possibly the only significant genre of music to ever be named after a television program. The history of luuk tung in television is examined along with the cultural and social impact of significant programs. The revival of Isan culture and the mediatory role of luuk tung is demonstrated through a case study of the drama series Pleeng rak rim fang Kong (‘Lovesong on the banks of the Mekong’). This article proposes that the convergence of luuk tung, television and nationalism has allowed Isan culture to become mainstream.

Author Biography

James Leonard Mitchell, Macquarie University

I am studying a PhD in the Department of Contemporary Music at Macquarie University, Sydney Australia. I am 37 years old, married with two children and currently reside in Khon Kaen Thailand where I am researching the most popular form of music in Thailand, luuk tung.


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How to Cite

Mitchell, J. (2009). Thai television and ’pleeng luuk tung’: The role of television in the Isan cultural revival. Perfect Beat, 10(1), 81–101.