Fervent Thai fans of Korean actor overstep airport security

BANGKOK — Extreme efforts by two Thai female fans to meet their South Korean idol have raised concerns about security procedures at Thailand's main airport.

The two women's misadventures were exposed when one posted photos on Instagram detailing how they got into the secure arrival zone at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport last Friday to greet South Korean soap opera star Lee Jong-suk face-to-face.

The posts explained how they changed into clothing to make them look like customs officers and thanked two officials who apparently helped them.

The Customs Department said it is seeking trespassing charges against the two fans, and the airport's police chief, Col. Viroj Tudso, said Wednesday that summonses had been issued for two customs officers accused of helping them enter a restricted area. A third is also under investigation, as Customs authorities examine whether their personnel lent security passes and uniforms to the women to allow them to enter the baggage claim area.

The trespassing charge carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a 100,000 baht ($3,100) fine.

The Instagram posts showed the enthusiasm of the two fans for their idol.

"Thank you, my dear friend, Piano, for finding out Suk's flight. Sai, for getting an official to let me into the departure gate," the fan wrote. "I was also the first person to touch Suk's hand!" she said.

Lee, 29, came to Bangkok to attend a fan meeting session on Saturday, where tickets to guarantee a brief high-five with the celebrity, an act known as "Hi-Touch," cost as much as 5,500 baht ($170). South Korean pop culture has a large following in Thailand.

The matter drew wider public attention when a Twitter user, who is also a follower of the South Korean star, reposted the fan's accounts and alerted the Twitter account of Airports of Thailand, the parent company of Suvarnabhumi Airport.

"Thank you very much," Airports of Thailand said in a Twitter post replying to the reposted images. "We will coordinate (with authorities) to continue the process."

The newspaper Khao Sod's English-language website reported Wednesday that airport Vice President Kittipong Kittikachorn had acknowledged that "the security team did not strictly follow procedures that day, allowing outsiders to slip in." It cited him as saying that airport authorities approved spending up to 20 million baht ($617,000) to improve security.

"I'd like to ask all staff and related personnel to cooperate with the authentication process to keep up the security standards," he was quoted saying. "For the safety of everyone, please comply willingly. We don't want something like this to happen again."

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