The biggest current craze in Thailand has, quite literally, the makings of Chucky.
Thailand, with a population of people that are mostly Buddhists, has been gripped with a strange obsession with life-size dolls. Known as the “luk thep” or “child angel” or “angel doll”, these dolls are believed to bring good fortune.
Bangkok Post quotes 27-year-old small business owner Jirunya “Prince” Supaorus, who named her “luk thep” “daughter” Nong Reaksap as saying, “People look at me and think I am crazy. I really don’t care what they think. They don’t know what I’ve been through and how much the doll has helped me.”
The strange phenomenon involves people “adopting” realistic-looking dolls for up to hundreds of dollars and getting them blessed with holy prayers by monks or holy men. But it’s not easy to achieve “success” – the doll must be kept happy for good luck and wealth will follow. Hence many “luk thep” owners care for the dolls as if they were real children.
Amongst the privileges now available for “luk thep” are such as shops are selling clothing, jewellery, and beauty treatments for the dolls. In fact, about a week ago, CNN reported that Thai Smile Airways, the low-cost subsidiary of Thai Airways, recently instructed its staff to allow passengers to purchase a seat for their dolls. The airline said in an internal memo that it will serve “luk thep” meals on board if their owners have bought a ticket for them.
Also, these dolls have to be secured with seatbelts for take-off and landing. You know, like normal human beings.
But the fad has drawn concern and warning from from authorities and psychologists in Thailand. According to VOA News, police officers on Tuesday carried out raids in Bangkok against doll vendors suspected of avoiding import taxes. 3 vendors were arrested and authorities seized more than 100 “luk thep” dolls, mostly imported from China.
Others worry that the modern incarnations may be put to evil use i.e. drug smuggling. About a week ago, police at Chiang Mai Airport intercepted a “luk thep” inside a black suitcase that was being used as a drug mule. Underneath that sweet exterior police say they found 200 tablets of yaba – a methamphetamine-based drug produced in Thailand.
Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-ocha has since urged people not to “get carried away” with the dolls. He said the dolls are all about superstition and are not indispensable, and advised people not to spend money on them if they cannot afford it.
Eep. Drug smuggling aside, we don’t know about you but seeing ultra realistic dolls lurking around in our homes would definitely make our skin crawl. Would you have bought the idea? Let us know what you think.