Three Thai men who gave free hugs to mourners at Sanam Luang on Sunday were escorted by police as a hundred thousand Thais gathered to pay respect to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Teerawat Pinpanichakarn, one of the free huggers, said that he and and his friends were detained by police and questioned after they stood at Sanam Luang with the signs that read: “We want Thai people to love each other. Free hugs.”
It was not clear if the free huggers were charged for giving free hugs, but the drama escalated online.
“We had no secret intention by organizing this activity. We only wanted to spread good feelings and support by giving free hugs,” Teerawat wrote on Facebook.
Previously, the group had offered free hugs at Siam Square and received good feedback. However, in a venue where modesty is expected, they continued to receive backlash online.
Teerawat explained that the drama started because a woman briefly joined his group and was photographed giving free hugs, putting her in the spotlight for internet slut-shaming.
In the conservative realm of Thai culture, women are not supposed to allow men to touch them and a hug between male and female friends is considered inappropriate.
“She was only there for three minutes,” Teerawat commented on the drama.
The story turned into a debate on Teerawat’s Facebook.
“When your parents die, don’t forget to give free hugs at the funeral. But men can only hug women, and women can only hug men. In case they click, they can just do it outside the crematory,” Nansakorn Noppharatwimon commented.
“I understand your attention, but don’t forget this is the funeral of the late king. Just go to Paragon,” the top comment said.
“Just know your modesty, you wannabes. Do you masturbate to attention?” Kidsakon Ratichawankorn wrote.
Looks like they have to go back to the basics — giving away free food and picking up trash or something.