Thai rapper bashed for supporting coup as teen quits K-pop act ‘H1-Key’

A file photo of Sitala Wongkrachang, former member of H1-Key.
A file photo of Sitala Wongkrachang, former member of H1-Key.

A Thai rapper and member of a South Korean girl group left the band after months of brewing anger over her politics.

South Korean record label Grandline Group (GLG), which manages rookie girl group H1-Key, announced this morning that Sitala Wongkrachang had departed the band.

“We would like to notify that member Sitala, who has been a part of H1-KEY until now, has decided to leave the team due to personal reasons,” the statement read. It went on to ask for “warm encouragement” toward H1-Key’s other members and Sitala’s future endeavors. 

#H1KEY and #SITALA were the top-trending hashtags in Thailand this morning. 

In December 2021, #BanSitala soared on the Thai net after the GLG announced that the 26-year-old would join H1-Key along with other three Korean talents. During the group’s promotions of their debut single album Athletic Girl, complaints emerged that Sitala and her late father, actor Saranyu Wongkrachang, participated in the anti-government protests which led to Thailand’s military coups of 2006 and 2014. 

Some people were unhappy that Sitala added to her official band profile that her father, who she attended the protests with, was her role model. Digging into Sitala’s past, it was discovered that she played a role in the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, the group behind street protests which paved the way for Prayuth Chan-ocha to seize power.

While many who participated in the protests have grown to report their support, resentment against those deemed salims has led to boycotts and public reckonings of those deemed ultraroyalist or pro-dictatorship.

That led to Sitala deactivating the comments on her social media accounts. Sitala blamed her naivete in a response to the backlash.

“I want to clarify that I do not wish to express any political stance. I was very young at the time when my father participated in anti-democracy campaigns, and I did not fully understand the situation,” she said at a Jan. 2 press conference. “But I do hope that the Thai people can live together in peace, despite their differences.”

Despite calls by Thai netizens for GLG to remove Sitala from the group, the record label commented that they would “not be held accountable” on the basis of Sitala and her father’s past decisions.

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