A new fun-filled destination has recently opened in Bangkok. Located at Siam Square One, Line Village, which began as a store selling official Line merchandise now includes Line Village The Digital Adventure, a three-floor theme park devoted to Line characters. Here you can have virtual reality encounters with characters such as Brown and Cony.
This is the world’s first Line digital theme park and the man behind the project is Rupop Shinawatra, or Knight, CEO of Line Village Thailand. Growing up, Rupop spent much of his time in the UK where after finishing his secondary education at St Edwards School, Oxford, a bachelor’s degree in financial economics from Queen Mary’s College was followed by a master’s degree in management at London Metropolitan University. A keen learner, Knight also recently earned a doctorate in politics from Ramkhamhaeng University. “I worked in England for a few years before relocating back to Thailand where one of my first stints was in the field of renewable energy,” he says.
Though the shift in career may seem odd to some, this Line Village project is a reflection of the fun and more artsy side to Knight’s personality. “I’ve always had a creative streak in me and frankly I have been a longtime fan of theme parks,” he explains. The materialisation of the project was very much a question of timing.
“We live in a highly digitised world, particularly here in Thailand. Line is one of the first things people check in the morning and last thing before going to bed. The application and its characters have become a big part of our everyday lives. So we wanted to create a destination where people could come and enjoy their time with family and friends while experiencing their favourite Line characters come to life.”
Less than half a year since its inauguration, the number of visitors is steadily picking up. From team training and marketing to construction and design of the park and licensing, the CEO’s responsibilities are varied but there are no complaints from Knight, who takes on each challenge with enthusiasm. “Business is going well but there is still work to be done in order to attract not only new visitors but also repeat customers. Being the first in the world is a plus, but because we are new it is important to educate people about what we do,” he says. “It’s not like Disneyland, which everyone is already familiar with.”
Work aside, Knight has been happily married for five years and is the father of two sons, two-year-old Eric and four-year-old Aidan. While he speaks enthusiastically about his work, he displays a touching fondness when discussing his children and parenthood.
“You know your father loves you but you never realise to what extent until you have kids of your own,” he smiles. “I love being a dad. I love watching them grow through different phases and spending time with them.” When he is at home with the family, Knight likes to cook for them. “My specialties are steak and roast chicken,” he says. Understanding the importance of family, regular holidays are mandatory in his household. “Actually we just got back from our first no-nanny trip to Pattaya,” he laughs.
Knight is quite the social butterfly and continues to enjoy regular nights out with his mates. “Hanging out with friends is my way of relaxing,” he says. “I enjoy discovering new restaurants and different types of cuisine.”
An articulate communicator, following his doctorate he confesses to maintaining a keen interest in politics. In fact, Knight has recently been elected as deputy leader of the Thai Raksa Chart political party. The son of Payap Shinawatra and nephew of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, this is not an unexpected move given the family’s involvement in politics.
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