Asia

'Gone, but not forgotten': Thailand pays tribute to King Bhumibol on social media

Social media post of King Bhumibol Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Among the stars: Many took online to express their grief as news emerged of King Bhumibol's death

Mourning in Thailand isn't just happening on the streets. Social media pages were also turned into a sea of black as news emerged of the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-reigning monarch.

An outpouring of grief, shock and uncertainty took over citizens expressing their grief online.

"I actually found out about the king's death through social media," Niphaphan Thammapanya told the BBC.

"There were so many people sharing news about the king. I prayed for him, I thought he would be okay. It's hard to admit that he's already gone."

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption The 88-year-old was the world's longest-reigning monarch
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption He was often seen as a pillar of stability in a country that is no stranger to conflict

Many changed their profile pictures to black and white images that simply stated: "In Remembrance of His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej."

Sites like Google Thailand, news outlets The Bangkok Post and The Nation, also turned black and white.

Others posted images depicting themselves in a position of reverence, in a show of the respect they had towards the late king.

Many social media users that did not change the colour of their profiles found themselves being attacked online and accused of disrespect.

Image copyright Bangkok Post
Image caption The Bangkok Post was one of many websites in Thailand to go black and white as a mark of respect
Image copyright Google
Image caption Google Thailand also went monochrome following King Bhumibol's death

The hashtag #LongLiveTheKing quickly trended on Thai social media, with posts of old photos of King Bhumibol, hand-drawn pictures and words of grief surfacing.

"If you ask me why Thai people love their King so much, I would ask you if you had time to listen for the whole day," was a post widely shared by hundreds of Thai netizens online.

"I don't know how I feel now," Dew Kaittisak Taraput said speaking to the BBC. "I was working when I saw the news on TV. I'm just shocked and so sad."

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The Thai symbol for the number "9" stood for King Rama the IX, as the king was also known

Others proclaimed proudly that they had lived under the reign of King Rama the IX, as the king was also known, as he was the ninth monarch of Thailand from the Chakri dynasty.

The dynasty, founded by King Rama I, has ruled Thailand since 1782.

"We aren't the best country in the world, but we were the country with the best King in the world," a user on Facebook posted.

"He transformed Thailand over the course of 70 years - almost [as long as] someone's whole life," said Nuk Traivorakul.

Image copyright Twitter

The image above shows a picture of a man and a child, presumably depicting the king and the child as the nation.

"Is it just a nightmare dad?", the child asks.

"I'm not here, so please take care of yourself well," answers the father.

Image copyright Instagram
Image caption Pichukkana Wongsarattanasin, an actress, reposted this image of the king and his first daughter Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya

But it wasn't just black and white.

Pictures with a dreamy ethereal quality also emerged, showing the king in a place out of this world.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The king was seen as a national father figure - this is one image being used widely on Twitter

"He is now looking over Thai citizens from Heaven," one user summed up.

Gone, but not forgotten

Before news of the King's death struck, social media pages in Thailand had variously been shades of pink and yellow.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Yellow is associated with King Bhumibol and his birthday, and is often the colour used to represent him.

Pictures showed King Bhumibol doing some of his favourite activities - as an avid musician, photographer and nature explorer.

He is also pictured in a cartoon with presumably his favourite dog, Copper, in his lap.

Copper, adopted as a stray puppy by the king, who was often pictured by his side, but died in 2015.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Pink is said to symbolise good health

The image above which features the words "Love the king", with the word love highlighted in a yellow heart, was one that went viral on social media as the king's health worsened over the week.

Though many of the colourful pictures have been replaced to reflect the king's demise, the messages of love towards the king remain the same.

"We will love you eternally. You may be gone but you will never be forgotten," posted a user on Twitter.

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