The power of “Y”: Sway yourself to learn about the world of diversity

TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 2024

Stepping into Pride Month: June holds significant importance for the LGBTQ+ community as various festivals and events, such as the Bangkok Pride Festival 2024, are celebrated throughout the month.

The festival features a parade starting from the plaza in front of the Nimibutr Building, National Stadium, and ending at Central World. Highlighting the significance of gender diversity, the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) presents the following insights into the Y Series phenomenon.

The Rise of the Y Series in Thailand

The trend of Y Series, encompassing both Yaoi (male-male) and Yuri (female-female) genres, has seen a surge in popularity not only in Thailand but also in neighboring countries and as far afield as Latin America. Numerous Thai Y Series have been internationally sought after for broadcasting rights. Recognizing this trend, the Thai government, through the Ministry of Commerce, has been actively promoting the Thai Y Series industry alongside traditional Thai products. This initiative was prominently showcased during the press conference launching the Yaoi series “Shine,” starring Mile Phakphum and Apo Natthawin, and the Yuri series “Pinpak,” featuring Freen Sarocha and Becky Rebecca.

The power of “Y”: Sway yourself to learn about the world of diversity

Overview of the Thai Series Industry

Shifts in Viewing Patterns and Business Models: Over the past five years, there has been a notable shift in how viewers consume drama series, transitioning from traditional television to streaming and online platforms. This evolution has made media content more accessible, leading to an increase in content producers and a variety of content formats. Business models have adapted to cater to consumer preferences, including creating original content for exclusive platforms, joint production investments, and purchasing airing rights for diverse platforms.

Thai Series as Soft Power: Thai series have garnered international acclaim, starting with neighboring countries such as Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar and expanding to China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Thai drama series have become instruments of Soft Power, promoting Thai culture globally. For example, the series “Bupphesanniwat” (Love Destiny) sparked trends in traditional Thai clothing and cuisine, while “Girl from Nowhere” inspired Chinese tourists to don Thai school uniforms. This cultural impact extends beyond the drama industry, benefiting related sectors.

The Growth of the Y Series Industry in Thailand: The Y Series industry is experiencing rapid growth both domestically and internationally. In 2023, approximately 78 Y Series were produced, with projections suggesting around 99 series in 2024. Thailand is a global leader in producing high-quality Y Series content, particularly in Asia, with significant popularity in Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Emerging markets in Latin America are also showing interest. The Y Series market is valued at over 1 billion baht, encompassing a wide array of economic activities such as commercial filming, event presentations, fan meet-and-greet tickets, and tourism related to fan events.

Key Factors Behind the Popularity of the Thai Y Series Internationally

  • Cultural Diversity: Thailand's rich history and diverse culture create content that appeals to both domestic and international audiences.
  • Openness to Diverse Thoughts: This fosters creativity and unique content distinct from overseas productions, particularly in the Y Series genres, generating significant economic value.
  • Quality and Creativity of Thai Personnel: Recognized internationally for their work.
  • Platform Accessibility: The integrated Thai drama series industry allows for direct distribution to target groups.
  • Association Formation: The establishment of associations for Y-content entrepreneurs, enhancing their potential to meet international standards and collaborate with government agencies.

The power of “Y”: Sway yourself to learn about the world of diversity

History of “Y”

The term "Y" originated as an abbreviation for "Yaoi," emerging from a specific segment of Japanese pop culture between the late 1970s and 1980s. Initially, Yaoi, which depicted erotic relationships between males, was a niche within Shoujo manga targeted at female readers. Over time, “Y” expanded to include "Yuri," representing female-female relationships. Initially, the Y genre was marginalized, even within cartoon enthusiast circles, creating a clear divide between general readers and Y fans. However, the concept of "shipping" (from the word "relationship") popularized Y content, leading to its mainstream success.

Yaoi (Boys’ Love)

Yaoi, a genre of fiction originating in Japan in the 1980s, was coined by Yasuko Sakata and Rinko Hatsu. This genre, primarily targeting female readers, features male-male relationships and differs from same-sex porn intended for diverse sexualities. Key terms in Yaoi include:

  • Seme (offensive side): Typically portrayed as tall, bold, and masculine.
  • Uke (receiver): Often depicted as delicate and feminine, though some stories feature taller figures in this role.

Yuri (Girls’ Love)

Yuri, abbreviated as Y and known in English as Girls' Love (GL), is a genre of Japanese media focusing on relationships between female characters. This genre includes both romantic and emotional or spiritual connections and appears in manga, anime, video games, and literature. Yuri's origins can be traced to Japanese lesbian literature and works from the 1970s, with significant contributions from artists in the Year 24 Group. Unlike Yaoi, Yuri targets a broader audience and is not confined to a single gender.

Popular Thai Y Series

In recent years, Thai BL (Boys' Love) series have captivated audiences both domestically and internationally with their compelling storylines and diverse representation of love and relationships. From the groundbreaking "SOTUS The Series" to the heartwarming "2gether: The Series" and the emotionally charged "I Told Sunset About You," these shows have garnered immense popularity and acclaim. This section provides a brief overview of some of the most popular Thai BL series, showcasing the range of narratives and characters that have resonated with viewers around the world.

●    SOTUS The Series (broadcast 20 August 2016)

"SOTUS The Series" is a Thai BL (Boys' Love) series that revolves around the hazing rituals of a university's engineering faculty. The story follows the relationship between Arthit, a senior student and head hazer, and Kongpob, a freshman who stands up against the hazing system. Their initial antagonism gradually develops into a deep romantic relationship.

●    Love by Chance (aired 3 August 2018)

"Love by Chance" is a Thai BL series that tells the story of Pete, a young man who faces bullying due to his sexuality, and Ae, a kind-hearted student who steps in to protect him. Their friendship blossoms into a romantic relationship as they navigate the challenges of acceptance and love.

●    Theory of Love (aired 1 June 2019)

"Theory of Love" is a Thai BL series that follows Third, a film student who has been secretly in love with his best friend, Khai, for three years. The series explores the complexities of unrequited love, friendship, and the possibility of romance.

●    TharnType The Series (broadcast 7 October 2019)

"TharnType" is a Thai BL series that centers on Type, a homophobic freshman who ends up sharing a dorm room with Tharn, a gay music student. Despite their rocky start, Type gradually confronts his prejudices, and the two develop a passionate and tumultuous relationship.

●    2gether The Series (aired 21 February 2020)

"2gether: The Series is a Thai BL series that tells the story of Tine, a college student who pretends to date Sarawat, a popular musician, to fend off a persistent admirer. Their fake relationship slowly turns into genuine affection, leading to real romantic feelings.

●    I Told Sunset About You (aired 22 October 2020)

"I Told Sunset About You" is a coming-of-age Thai BL series about Teh and Oh-aew, childhood friends who rekindle their bond in high school. Their friendship evolves into a deep and emotional romantic relationship as they explore their identities and aspirations.

●    Bad Buddy (broadcast 29 October 2021)

"Bad Buddy Series" is a Thai BL series that portrays the story of Pran and Pat, whose families have been rivals for years. Despite their families' animosity, Pran and Pat develop a close friendship that eventually blossoms into a romantic relationship.

●    Cutie Pie (aired February 19, 2022)

"Cutie Pie" is a Thai BL series about two young men, Kuea and Lian, who have been in an arranged marriage since childhood. As they grow older, they navigate their feelings and the expectations placed on them, ultimately discovering their true love for each other.

●    KinnPorsche (broadcast 2 April 2022)

"KinnPorsche" is a Thai BL series that follows Kinn, the heir to a mafia family, and Porsche, a bartender who becomes his bodyguard. The series explores their evolving relationship amidst the dangers and complexities of the mafia world.

●    GAP The Series (aired 19 November 2022)

"GAP The Series" is a Thai Yuri (Girls' Love) series that explores the romantic relationship between two women, delving into themes of love, identity, and societal expectations. The series highlights the challenges and beauty of same-sex relationships in contemporary Thai society.

Popular Thai Y Pairs (Yaoi and Yuri)

In the vibrant world of the Thai Y (Yaoi and Yuri) series, the chemistry between on-screen pairs often transcends the boundaries of fiction, captivating audiences and sparking fervent "shipping" cultures. From the beloved "virgin pairs" in Thai BL series, where fans passionately root for their favorite couples to be together in real life, to the endearing duos in Yuri series that challenge societal norms, these pairings have become icons of love and representation in the Thai entertainment landscape. This section explores some of the most popular Thai Y pairs, whose compelling performances and undeniable chemistry have left an indelible mark on audiences, both domestically and internationally.

●    Singto Prachaya Ruangroj and Perawat Sangpotirat (Krist) from SOTUS The Series 

Singto Prachaya and Krist Perawat gained significant popularity for their roles as Arthit and Kongpob in "SOTUS The Series." Their on-screen chemistry contributed to the series' success and made them beloved figures in the Thai BL community.

●    Perth Tanapon and Saint Suppapong from Love by Chance 

Perth Tanapon and Saint Suppapong starred as Ae and Pete in "Love by Chance." Their portrayal of a tender and protective relationship captured the hearts of fans, leading to a strong fan following both domestically and internationally.

●    Off Jumpol and Gun Atthaphan from The Theory of Love 

Off Jumpol and Gun Atthaphan played the roles of Khai and Third in "Theory of Love." Their dynamic and emotional performances depicted the complexities of unrequited love and eventual romance, making them a favorite pair among viewers.

●    Mew Suppasit and Gulf Kanawut from TharnType 

Mew Suppasit and Gulf Kanawut portrayed Tharn and Type in "TharnType," a series known for its intense and passionate storyline. Their powerful performances and undeniable chemistry made them one of the most iconic pairs in the Thai BL genre.

●    Bright Vachirawit and Win Metawin from 2gether The Series 

Bright Vachirawit and Win Metawin starred as Sarawat and Tine in "2gether: The Series." Their charming and lighthearted portrayal of a fake relationship turning into real love resonated with a wide audience, establishing them as a beloved couple in the BL community.

●    Billkin Putthipong and PP Krit from I Told Sunset About You 

Billkin Putthipong and PP Krit played Teh and Oh-aew in "I Told Sunset About You." Their performances in this coming-of-age story about friendship and love were widely praised for their emotional depth and authenticity.

●    Ohm Pawat and Nanon Korapat from Bad Buddy

Ohm Pawat and Nanon Korapat starred as Pran and Pat in "Bad Buddy Series." Their on-screen relationship, set against the backdrop of family rivalry, showcased a heartfelt and compelling love story that garnered a strong fan base.

●    Zee Pruk and NuNew Chawarin from Cutie Pie

Zee Pruk x NuNew Chawarin played Kuea and Lian in "Cutie Pie," a series about an arranged marriage turning into genuine love. Their performances and chemistry brought warmth and authenticity to the series, making them a favorite among fans.

●    Mile Phakphum and Apo Natthawin from KinnPorsche

Mile Phakphum and Apo Natthawin starred as Kinn and Porsche in "KinnPorsche," a BL series set in the world of organized crime. Their intense and captivating portrayals of a mafia heir and his bodyguard brought a fresh and exciting dynamic to the genre.

●    Freen Sarocha and Becky Rebecca from GAP The Series

Freen Sarocha and Becky Rebecca played the leading roles in "GAP The Series," a Yuri series that explores a romantic relationship between two women. Their performances highlighted the challenges and beauty of same-sex relationships, contributing to the growing popularity of Yuri content in Thailand.

These fan ‘shipping’ pairs have significantly contributed to the popularity and success of Thai Y series, gaining dedicated fan bases both in Thailand and internationally. 

The power of “Y”: Sway yourself to learn about the world of diversity

The Role of the Ministry of Commerce in Promoting Yaoi & Yuri Series 

On February 26, 2024, Mr. Phumtham Wechayachai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce, announced via X (Twitter) his plans to collaborate with Idol Factory, the producer of the Girls' Love series, to promote Thai products globally. He emphasized that from the Yaoi series "Mile-Apo" to the Yuri series, this represents another significant stride by the Ministry of Commerce in elevating Thai community products onto the global stage.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Commerce formally signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) on February 28th at the Ministry of Commerce headquarters. The aim was to propel Thai products and services to international prominence through the Yuri (Girls' Love) series. Lead actors, such as Rebecca Patricia Armstrong, known as Becky, and Sarocha Chankimha, known as Freen, both rising stars from the Pink Theory series (GAP The series), Thailand's pioneering Girls' Love series produced by Idol Factory, were in attendance. This series had garnered significant success, winning the People's Choice Award at the Nine Entertainment Awards 2023. The recent introduction of the new series "Pinpak" ignited discussions among Becky-Freen fans, both domestically and internationally.

Previously, the Ministry of Commerce had collaborated with Be On Cloud, a fully integrated series and film production studio in Thailand, to introduce "Shine" in 2024. This major project, featuring Mile and Apo as lead characters, seamlessly incorporated Thai products, services, tourism, and culture into this romantic-comedy period series. The objective was to acquaint consumers with Thai offerings and stimulate their consumption, following the trajectory of Thai series into the future.

Earlier on November 7, 2023, the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) was strategically promoting Thai BL series in the Japanese market to bolster Thailand's soft power. Led by Deputy Director-General Pornvit Sila-On, DITP facilitated negotiations between 10 Thai BL series producers and over 200 Japanese importers, aiming to generate over 150 million baht. Recognizing the global appeal of Thai BL content, especially in Japan, where fan meets with Thai BL artists have drawn considerable interest, DITP's Tokyo office, under the direction of Chanthapat Panjamanond (Minister (Commercial) at the Office of Commercial Affairs, Royal Thai Embassy), orchestrated trade events with key Japanese entertainment companies. This initiative not only showcases Thailand's cultural exports but also aligns with the broader objective of enhancing Thailand's soft power influence globally. (

The power of “Y”: Sway yourself to learn about the world of diversity

Major Plans of DITP in 2024

In 2024, the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) has outlined significant initiatives to bolster the global presence and market potential of Thai content, particularly in the Y series sector. The key plans include:

●    Participation in the Asian Contents & Film Market (South Korea)—October 2024

DITP will facilitate the attendance of Thai entrepreneurs at the Asian Contents & Film Market in South Korea. This event is a premier platform for content creators, producers, and distributors to showcase their work and engage with international buyers and collaborators. By participating, Thai entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to network, negotiate deals, and expand their market reach in the Asian region, particularly focusing on the booming Korean entertainment industry.

●    Trade Delegation to TIFFCOM (Japan)—October 2024

DITP will organize a trade delegation specifically for the Thai Y series group to visit Japan and participate in TIFFCOM, the Tokyo International Film Festival's content market. This event will provide Thai content creators with a strategic platform to present their Y series to Japanese buyers and industry leaders. The delegation aims to foster collaborations, secure distribution deals, and explore new market opportunities in Japan, leveraging the country's appreciation for diverse and unique narratives.

●    Business Matching and Negotiation at the American Film Market (USA)—November 2024

DITP will take Thai entrepreneurs to the American Film Market (AFM) in the USA, one of the largest gatherings of film industry professionals in the world. At AFM, Thai content creators will engage in business matching and negotiation activities, presenting their projects to a global audience. This initiative aims to secure international partnerships, distribution agreements, and co-production opportunities, thereby enhancing the global footprint of Thai Y series and other creative content.

These strategic plans underscore DITP's commitment to promoting Thai creative industries on the international stage, fostering global collaborations, and driving economic growth through cultural exports.

The power of “Y”: Sway yourself to learn about the world of diversity

Key Sources for Staying Updated on the Thai Y Series

To stay updated on the latest developments in the Thai Y Series phenomenon, you can explore a variety of focused sources. Streaming platforms such as Netflix, WeTV, and LINE TV offer a wide range of Thai Y Series with subtitles, making them accessible to international audiences. Social media platforms like Twitter (X) and Instagram are valuable for following hashtags like #ThaiBL and #ThaiYSeries and keeping up with official accounts of series and actors, such as @GMMTV and @offgunfun.

For more structured information, MyDramaList provides comprehensive details on series and actors, while other platforms like YouTube channels such as GMMTV Official and LINE TV post trailers, episodes, and exclusive content. Joining fan groups on Facebook and participating in Reddit communities like r/ThaiBL and r/boyslove can also provide updates and fan interactions. The official websites of production companies such as GMMTV and Idol Factory are excellent for news and project announcements. Finally, attending fan meets and conventions, often announced on social media, provides opportunities for live interactions with actors and other fans.