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Tea Leaves

How Thai girlband 'idols' inspire lonely male fans

Girl performers tap into needs of land that #MeToo movement passed by

In the middle of an empty white space sits a large glass box. Pressed up against this too-pla, or "fishbowl," is a crowd of boys and men ranging from their teens to thirties. Fervently clutching long-lens cameras and smartphones, they stand there watching ... just watching.

Their rapt attention is focused on the members of BNK48, a Thai female "idol" group of singers and dancers based on the franchise from Japan. BNK48 has a total of 53 members, ranging in age from 14 to their early 20s. Ever since their debut in 2017, what has made the girls appealing to the Thai population -- especially males -- is not so much their music but their personalities and looks.

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