Ban Kok Soong in Non That sub-district in Nong Song Hong district of Thailand’s Khon Kaen province is one of numerous north-eastern villages whose residents have travelled abroad to work and have sent home substantial amounts of money, so their families could build their own houses and live decent lives.
Today (Saturday), however, villagers in Ban Kok Soong grieve as they hold funerals for two of the three in their community who were killed in the Hamas attacks in Israel about two weeks ago and whose remains came home yesterday.
Over 200 residents and three generations in this agricultural village are reported to have left to work in countries such as Israel, Taiwan and South Korea.
59-year-old Pitisak Pimpart told Thai PBS that he went to work in Israel in 1998, earning about 30,000 baht a month and now it is the turn of his 29-year-old son, who got a job in Israel and worked there for four years before war broke out between Israel and Hamas.
He said his son, Chatri, flew back to Thailand from Israel on Thursday, but three other men in the village had been killed.
Former headman of the village, Suay Soongdum, said most villagers are rice farmers who also raise poultry and pigs, while others work in factories. Their incomes are, however, insufficient to meet their increasing expenses, driving a number of them to seek work overseas. In many cases, they have to take out loans from banks or private money lenders, at high interest rates, to cover their travel expenses.
About 50 villagers are now working in South Korea, 10 in Taiwan and 8 in Israel, said Suay, adding that Ban Kok Soong has earned a reputation as a “labour exporting village.”