“I want to box to earn money for the electricity bill at home.” That is the dream of an 11-year-old boxer from a camp in Khon Kaen province who has to provide for his family. His mind set on succeeding, he trains hard in the hope of going professional. Though he may get injured, and the income from competitions might be minimal, it’s still better than nothing at all.
The mass shooting in Thailand’s Nong Bua Lamphu province on October 6, 2022 was a tragedy that stunned the world. A former policeman used a gun and a knife to attack a childcare center, killing 37 people and injuring more than 10 others. Many of the victims were young children. One year has passed. The Isaan Record went to the site to talk to those who lived through the nightmare about how their lives have changed.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, streaming businesses and online platforms enjoyed explosive growth, especially for the entertainment industry. In Thailand, however, one particular traditional music business — molam — plunged into dire circumstances. Yet to be afforded legitimacy, molam artists receive little to no support from the government. Today, they hang onto a dimming hope that they will return to the stage as their art form gradually dies.
Would you buy yogurt drink from a teen selling it at an intersection because they were wearing a school uniform? Yogurt drink dealers across Isaan train teenagers who are no longer students to dress up in a school uniform to increase sales. Do people passing by tend to buy out of pity?
The upcoming general elections in May could be another turning point for Thailand. Will voters choose to remain under a military regime or turn to a civilian government? The decision will be left up to the voters who will elect 400 members of parliament, of which 133 will come from Isaan. More than three generations ago, Isaan MPs were lauded for their courage to stand up against authoritarian governments — even at the cost of their lives. The names of these brave MPs have been invoked in recent years, as hopes are growing for Isaan MP who can live up to the grit of their predecessors, especially the four ministers who serve as the archetypes of democracy fighters.
Thai workers die in South Korea the most in the world, at least 522 cases died in the last 6 years, and 86% of them are 'little ghosts'. One of them was Boonchu Prawasanang native from Khon Kaen province.
The trade of waste makes a lot of money for people in Na Kaew Village, Ubon Ratchathani Province. Recycling trash turns many local farmers into business owners. Na Kaew has now become the largest waste-trade hub in the region. But there is growing concern in the waste-trade industry. As people continue to generate money from recycling waste, Thailand might become a dump site of the world.
Once upon a time, on a small alley next to Wat Machimawat on Mak Khaeng Road, a dozen houses could be seen. The houses were the homes of molam artists and dancers. Once scattered throughout Isaan, they had all moved from their hometowns to this alley in the city of Udon Thani. There they all had dreamt that they would become stars. But today, only a few of the original houses remain, sheltering aging molam artists.
Undocumented Thai workers in South Korea can earn five times more than the minimum wage in Thailand. Hundreds of thousands of Thais have migrated to work illegally as laborers in factories or in agriculture. Most come from the Northeast, seeking to escape the poverty in their homeland. They are called phi noi (“little ghosts”). They are the flame-of-the-forest flowers that could never bloom in the arid lands of Isaan.
This year provided more sorrow than cheer for Isaan people, especially for those in Nong Bua Lamphu, who suffered a horrific loss after a mass shooting at a nursery killed 37 people, 24 of which were small children. People in Isaan across several provinces also had to endure hardships that came from floods and from many of the government’s construction projects. The Isaan Record documented and published these struggles that remain unresolved. For The Isaan Record, the year 2022 was one of greatest sorrow, as we suddenly lost our aspiring reporter and photographer, Adithep Chantet. In his short time, though, he created an impressive photographic world. We showcase a number of Atitep’s final photos as part of our “Photos of the Year 2022.”
What would you do if you returned to your house three months after a flood only to find it in ruins, damaged beyond repair, a slush of garbage and mud obscuring any hint of a floor? This is what many flood victims in Ubon Ratchathani province encountered. They need to stay in their homes but first they need to eat. Meanwhile relief from the government is slow and insufficient. What are they to do? Songwut Jullanan from Ubon Ratchathani reports.
It’s been over a month now since the Mitraphap Community along Khon Kaen railway was confronted with major loss after their homes were submerged in meter-high water. The physical and psychological damage, though, remains – and has been overlooked by the government. Community members ask if the flash flood they’re forced to face is only seen as a necessary sacrifice for the city residents and the province’s economic hub to be spared from.