23 May 2024

A social media post, which is being widely discussed across several social media platforms in Thailand, claims that the popular ‘Labubu’ toys are based upon the Cambodian ‘Kala’ myth.

The post begins “From Cambodia to Hong Kong; From Kala to Labubu” and states that the Labubu is a small “monster” and the flagship character of Kasing Lung, from Hong Kong.

Labubu is available as multiple figurines in collections produced by Popmart. Meanwhile, Kala, or Kirtimukha, is a demon commanded to devour itself. It is depicted as a fire-swallowing monster with huge fangs and a gaping mouth. Kala is commonly found in Angkorian iconography, sculpted over temple entrances as a guardian.

The social media post also compares photos of Labubu and Kala, to highlight their similarities, but the claim has raised eyebrows among Thai netizens, who do not see any similarities between them.

Thailand and Cambodia, immediate neighbours, have previously engaged in several disputes over claims of ownership of cultural elements and events, such as the Songkran festival and certain elements of language.

Labubu toys have been in great demand in Thailand and other countries since Lisa BLACKPINK posted pictures of herself holding a Labubu collection box of the “macaron” version in her social media.

This has led to a price hike and low stocks and, recently, advice has been issued for Labubu lovers to be more careful when purchasing the figures online, to avoid buying fakes.