Bangkok park designer, Lisa Blackpink represent Thailand in Time’s ‘100 Next’

From left, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Lalisa ‘Lisa’ Manoban and Kotchakorn Voraakhom
From left, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Lalisa ‘Lisa’ Manoban and Kotchakorn Voraakhom

One is the political opposition leader, another is a landscape architect fighting climate change. Then there is the Thai member of Blackpink, which this year became the first K-pop girl group to play Coachella. 

Two Thai nationals — Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Kotchakorn Voraakhom — were featured “leaders” in New York-based Time’s 100 Next list published Thursday. The magazine says the new list is an “expansion” to its 100 most-influential list and highlights emerging stars in business, politics, entertainment, health and activism.

The list includes “phenoms” such as South Korean pop giant Blackpink’s Lalisa “Lisa” Manoban, who is Thai.

Getting the most ink today is its inclusion of billionaire auto-parts scion Thanathorn, the 40-year-old founder of the Future Forward Party. His new party had a very strong showing in March’s general election despite the rules being tilted against it. It won 17% of the vote, but Thanathorn was quickly blocked from taking his seat in parliament under a strained interpretation of an election law barring pols from holding media shares. Last month, he was condemned by the Thai army chief and Chinese embassy over a photo he took with Hong Kong pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong. 

“The journey didn’t end there. It’s just started. The generals still rule. The struggle continues. Democratization, demilitarization and decentralization is our call,” Thanathorn tweeted in response to Time’s list. “We will continue the fight until the question of who does the power belong to in this country is solved.”

Photo: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit / FB
Photo: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit / FB

Kotchakorn, 38, is a landscape architect who designs green urban spaces that tackle climate change. After Thailand suffered the worst flooding in half a century in 2011, Kotchakorn responded by promoting climate-resilient green spaces as buffers against annual inundation.

Hidden downtown park wins award for Chulalongkorn

Among her works are Chulalongkorn University’s Centenary Park, a major urban eco park in the heart of Bangkok. She also founded Landprocess — a Bangkok design firm which is now building a 36-acre park up in Rangsit featuring “Asia’s biggest” urban farming green roof.

“So glad I’m a Thai in Time,” Kotchakorn wrote in Thai on Instagram. “So honored to be among a group of such amazing people.”

Photo: Landprocess / FB
Photo: Landprocess / FB

Then there’s Lisa. One quarter of pop mammoth Blackpink — who Ddu-Du Ddu-Du-d their way into the world’s ears and a Coachella stage in April – Lisa is a 22-year-old rapper, singer and dancer from Buriram province.

“[They heralded] a new era of Korean acts stepping past language barriers to play global stages,” Kat Moon wrote for Time

The non-Thais rounding out the list include Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, rapper Lil Nas X, anti-Beijing activist Edward Leung, American-Cuban singer-songwriter Camila Cabello and writer Chanel Miller, aka “Emily Doe” who has advocated for sexual assault survivors.

Time said it created the list to recognize the new gen wielding power and influence outside of traditional power structures. The youngest person on the list is 14-year-old figure skater Alysa Liu. The oldest is 44, Israeli politician Ayman Odeh.

How were they chosen? An article titled How We Chose the 2019 TIME 100 Next doesn’t really say, but does note that established figures such as former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were recruited to profile them.

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