- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 30, 2002

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Sherry Levin says she was only trying to have some harmless fun when she spoofed the king of Thailand in an ad promoting her Thai-themed lounge. The Thai government was not amused, and Miss Levin, a community newspaper and even the governor have been hearing about it.
For days, Saint Jack's restaurant in Philadelphia has been besieged with angry phone calls from Thai diplomats demanding that she withdraw the ad depicting the monarch as an urban hipster and that she apologize or risk souring relations between Thailand and the United States.
"They told me they were going to get the White House involved and the Department of Defense. I couldn't believe it," said Miss Levin, 35.
Several Thai diplomats said the drawing, depicting King Bhumibol Adulyadej with funky stone-encrusted glasses, bleached highlights and lines shaved into his head, is offensive to the Thai people and a terrible insult to a ruler considered by some to be a living god.
Thailand's consul general, Voravee Wirasamban, even wrote Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker and Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street, asking them to intervene. Mr. Schweiker, in a response June 25, politely declined to get involved.
"He acknowledged the long-standing friendly relationship between the United States and Thailand," Schweiker spokesman David La Torre said. "He explained that the commonwealth had no hand in the creation of the ad or its placement in the newspaper, but he certainly regretted any umbrage taken to the advertisement by the king or by the Thai people."
"This is all a misunderstanding," Thai Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Isorn Pokmontri told the Associated Press. "We just explained to them that this would hurt the Thai people, and it might have an effect on other aspects of the Thai-U.S. relationship, but we did not mention anything about diplomatic ties.


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