Revise ghost-festival clip, Thai minister orders

THAILAND - Culture Minister Sonthaya Kunplome said yesterday that the "Gangnam Style" video clip advertising Loei province's famous ghost festival should be revised to ensure that it focuses on the country's cultural roots instead of fads.

The clip was produced by Dan Sai Municipality to promote the annual Phi Ta Khon or ghost-mask dance, which marks the time when ghosts followed Phra Vessantara, one of the Buddha's incarnations, out of the forest.

Sonthaya issued this statement on his first day at the Culture Ministry. He was given back the ministry portfolio now that he has completed his five-year political ban and his wife has been removed in the latest Cabinet reshuffle.

The "Gangnam Style" moves created by South Korean singer Psy have become so popular that even Loei Governor Sompong Arunrojpanya believed that ghost-mask dancers should use them to promote the festival. Loei's next Phi Ta Khon festival will be held on July 10-12 next year.

Santiparp Cheuboonmee, mayor of Dan Sai Municipality, said the clip also showed the province's tourist attractions. "Our culture is not hurt. I have done nothing wrong," he protested.

Bangkok resident Son Wattanaphan, 60, said modern dance moves would add more colour to the annual festival.

"I think the 'Gangnam Style' moves will help promote the festival at an international level," he said.

The Phi Ta Kon Gangnam Style video clip can be watched on YouTube and had been accessed more than 20,000 as of press time yesterday. Yet Sonthaya insisted yesterday that it was necessary for him to issue policies that would ensure that young people know their cultural roots.

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