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Resort owner Vorasit ''Wan'' Issara: 'They thought I was Korean'

Phuket Bar Stabbing Resort Owner Tells: 'I'm Lucky to Be Alive'

Friday, January 6, 2012
PHUKET: Happy to be alive, Vorasit ''Wan'' Issara showed us the photographs today of the shocking wounds inflicted when he was set upon by six men with a tomahawk and knives in an after-hours Phuket bar this week.

''They thought I was Korean,'' he told Phuketwan in an exclusive interview from his bed in the Intensive Care Unit at Bangkok Hospital Phuket. ''That was shocking, too.''

Khun Wan looked surprisingly well, sitting on the edge of his bed, chatting on his mobile telephone, with his head half-shaved around wounds and large bandages on his belly and shoulders. Monitors and wiring are everywhere.

His resort-owning father Songkran, who joined us as we talked, said: ''My son is lucky to survive. The cuts were very deep and they came close to major blood vessels.''

It was in the Rassada Pub in a notorious part of Phuket City about 4.30am on Wednesday, with Hollywood star Jeremy Renner, two or three colleagues and his driver that 30-year-old Khun Wan's life almost came to an abrupt end.

''I'd been to that pub about six times before and the place has always had a bit of a reputation,'' he said. ''We headed out that night because it was Jeremy's second-last night on Phuket.

''We started out at my place (the swank Sri panwa resort on Phuket's eastern Cape Panwa) then we moved to Kor Tor Mor (a popular spot with visiting celebrities) and after that closed, we moved on to the Rassada Pub.''

Khun Wan confirmed that Jeremy Renner had been unscathed in the bloody assault and was now back at work in the Philippines, filming on his latest project. The two have been talking by telephone about the incident, he said.

''We pushed Jeremy to safety as soon as the fight broke out,'' Khun Wan said.

The photographs he showed us today were taken at the Phuket City private hospital soon after he arrived.

They show shocking injuries. Part of his intestines spilled from the knife wound. The long slashes to his neck and shoulders appear to have been executed with deadly intent.

''The adrenaline was flowing. Only when I got into the car did I realise I had been stabbed in the stomach,'' Khun Wan said. ''And when I took off my shirt we realised how bad the chop wounds were to my back.''

Khun Wan took the brunt of the assault by the six male staff at the Rassada Pub, with the worst wounds inflicted with a homemade tomahawk to his back and a knife to his stomach.

His hand was also badly cut and required stitches. Fortunately the hospital was just five or 10 minutes from the bar at that time of the morning.

''I had been there (to the Rassada Pub) about six times before but I don't think they remembered,'' he said. ''Those guys have a bad reputation. They thought I was Korean.''

At the pub, sitting in a middle table, a woman at a neighboring table dropped a glass and it broke.

''I'm an experienced hotelier so I used my foot to sweep the glass under a chair to make sure it was out of the way,'' Khun Wan said. ''Everything seemed fine. A guy did come and shone a torch in my face twice, though.''

Khun Wan said that the partying continued for a while. ''Then as I was standing, I felt this arm around my neck from behind. At first, I thought it was one of my friends, playing a joke.

''In fun, I grabbed the person's arm and tried to swing it, as if we were dancing.''

In the drama that quickly unfolded, Khun Wan was struck time and time again with various weapons, including the tomahawk and a knife.

''I am very pleased that the police did such a good job,'' Khun Wan said.

Police apprehended all six Rassada staff. One of six - the one who wielded the tomahawk - is under 18 and, as a minor, cannot be identified. All six are likely to face charges of attempted murder.

With the spate of bad publicity worldwide for Phuket and Thailand, Phuket's new Police Commander, Major General Chonsit Wadhnawarangkun, is likely to oversee a crackdown on after-hours bars all over Phuket.

Khun Wan is hoping to be out of hospital and home to the Sri panwa resort within a few days. He has been told he will regain full use of his arms.

Comments

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Whoa, those are some serious injuries. He sure is lucky to be alive. Hope he recovers fully.

Interesting though that he mentions they thought he was Korean. I wonder if that had something to do with the vengeance they went after him. Would have been great to see some additional questions exploring that aspect of the assault.

Either way, not that I ever have but this certainly is a major reason not to patronize any of such establishments.

I've been on Phuket 8 years and don't even know where Ponpool is.

Posted by Steve C. on January 6, 2012 13:26

Editor Comment:

No opportunity for too many questions in ICU . . . the company I came to work for in Phuket generously put me up in Poonpol for the first month.

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Maybe they thought it was up your alley...

Well, as I always say, almost everything is funny, as long as it happens to someone else.

Posted by Steve C. on January 6, 2012 14:22

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Good to see him in his usual mood. Get well fast, Khun Wan. Would have been a tremendous loss for Phuket.

After hearing that the daughter of the crown prince send a flower to be delivered, I guess that place will never open again. One should not mess with a friend of hers. Shocking is also, that they go in for inflicting deadly wounds for really nearly nothing.

Posted by Lena on January 6, 2012 15:25

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''I'm an experienced hotelier so I used my foot to sweep the glass under a chair to make sure it was out of the way,'' Khun Wan said....lol

Glad he's OK though, looks like they picked on the wrong guy this time.

Posted by Nick on January 6, 2012 16:47

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The real question is, how many other people have they done this to and gotten away with? That kind of violent behavior toward customers isn't spontaneous, it's sanctioned.

Posted by JingJing on January 6, 2012 16:51

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Yet more bad press for Phuket. I've seen reports, mainly due to Renner being involved.

The sheer level of violence involved in this attack and not to mention the weapons would certainly put off lots of people from wanting to visit.

Posted by Graham on January 6, 2012 17:16

Editor Comment:

That's the issue police and authorities should be quick to address.

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Are-we during Vegetarian Festival when Warriors protect their Gods?

Posted by Whistle-Blower on January 6, 2012 18:57

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Is it me, or what?
I still fail to see the connection between someone being Korean and attacked or not Korean and attacked.

What has being Korean got to do with anything?

Posted by Tbs on January 6, 2012 19:39

Editor Comment:

The impression we were given is that the men thought Khun Vorasit was a tourist, not a Thai.

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A lovely spot, Phunphon Road: "In 1984, a fire in Phuket's red light district killed five girls. They had been locked into their room, the two youngest chained to beds."

Part of that area has now been redeveloped.

Apparently the units aren't selling so well. I guess some Thais have long memories.

Posted by Eric on January 6, 2012 20:31

Editor Comment:

Our style for the spelling is Poonpol. Yes, the area is gradually being gentrified. Phuket in 1984 may not have been entirely the gorgeous place that tourism's pioneer rave about.

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Sorry ED, but is the behaviour of these savages when the perceived threat is from a non-Thai or just a plain tourist??? Think about what this damage is going to cause this little islands international reputation, if that was the case?
If yes, then I pray for a trouble and tourist free Phuket in the next six months.
I pray his big influence from Bangkok hits the so called big wigs here, right in the nuts. Hollywood is already writing a script for a new movie about the ills of tourist bashing in Phuket.

Posted by Robin on January 6, 2012 21:28

Editor Comment:

It's Khun Wan's impression that the people who assaulted him thought he was Korean. We didn't have the time to follow up closely on that aspect or other aspects of what took place. But the fact they thought he was Korean stuck in Khun Wan's mind and, as a Phuket resort manager and owner, clearly alarmed him.

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I met Khun Wan a few times some years back when they were opening the resort and properties and he seemed like a very decent person, the opposite of a stereotypical "hi-so" young Thai that people sometimes think about.

He always came across as very likeable and both Thai and Foreigners spoke well of him. I was treated very well at their establishment and all their management were really cool, relaxed and approachable.

I am glad he was not hurt too badly and hope the police will be motivated to reducing these kinds of attacks whether against Thai, Korean or whatever nationality.

Posted by rob on January 8, 2012 00:31


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