Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Welcome to Cambodia: Samdech Sang Chuon Nath, The Scholar of Both Buddhism and Humanism, The Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia

Welcome to Cambodia: Samdech Sang Chuon Nath, The Scholar of Both Buddhism and Humanism, The Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia

Samdech Sang Chuon Nath (Samdech Sangha Raja Jhotañano Chuon Nath)-(March 11, 1883 – September 25, 1969) is the late Supreme Patriarch Kana Mahanikaya of Cambodia. Amongst his achievements is his effort in conservation of the Khmer language in the form of the Khmer dictionary. His protection of Khmer identity and history in the form of the national anthem, Nokor Reach and Savada Khmer are also amongst his contribution to the country.

Conserving the Khmer Language

Nath was the head of a reformist movement in the Khmer Buddhist Sangha which developed a rationalist-scholastic model of Buddhism, rooted in linguistic studies of the Pali Canon. This new movement, known as Dhammayuttika Nikaya, influenced young Khmer monks in the early 20th century. The new movmenet also cultivated Khmer-language identity and culture, giving rise to the notion of Cambodian nationalism.

Nath pushed for a series of innovations in the Khmer Sangha beginning in the early twentieth century: the use of print for sacred texts (rather than traditional methods of hand-inscribing palm-leaf manuscripts); a higher degree of expertise in Pali and Sanskrit studies among monks; a vision of orthodoxy based on teaching of Vinaya texts for both monks and lay-people; and modernization of teaching methods for Buddhist studies.

He also oversaw the translation of the entire Buddhist Pali cannon into Khmer language; and the creation of the Khmer language dictionary.

The French set up its protectorate over Cambodia and intended to replace the Khmer language with its own through the so-called "pseudo-French intellectuals." This intention rallied many Cambodian scholars to the course of conserving the Khmer language; one such scholar was Nath. A son of farmers who later became a monk, Nath dedicated his life to upholding Buddhism and the conservation of Khmer language in the country that was highly influenced by French colonialism. He had an extensive knowledge of the Khmer language. He was probably the most famous and most knowledgeable monk Cambodia had ever had. A master in Buddha’s teaching, he was very well known around the Buddhism circle as well as very adept at languages. Throughout his life he encouraged the use of "Khmerization" in both public education and religions. What Nath meant by "Khmerization" was he wanted to derive new Khmer words from its ancestral roots, the Pali and Sanskrit languages. For example, when the train arrived first in Cambodia, there was no Khmer word for the train. Nath thus derived the word for train from Sanskrit and Pali word of Ayomoyo which means something that is made of metal. Together with the word Yana which means vehicle, came the Khmer word for train which we know today as Ayaksmeyana, pronounced Ayak-smey-yean.

However, Nath’s Khmerization was not overall accepted by all Khmers. ther scholars such as Keng Vannsak who were pro-French did not find the kind of Khmer words derived from Pali and Sanskrit to be convenient. They revolutionized another kind of derivation which they want to adopt normalized French word into Khmer vocabulary. The only major change was to use Khmer alphabet to write the word rather than using the Roman alphabets used by the French. But despite opposition, Nath’s Khmerization succeeded. He was a member of the original committee granted royal order to compile a Khmer dictionary in 1915 and was credited as the founder of the dictionary as he pushed for and finally succeeded in printing the first edition of the current Khmer dictionary in 1967.

Nath’s other contribution to Cambodia include the current national anthem, Nokoreach. Nokoreach was written to correspond to the motto of the nation, "Nation, Religion, King" as well as demonstrate the grandeur and the mighty past of the Khmer nation.

Verification of the national khmer song:

Pong Savada Khmer

A ballad Savada Khmer to call for all Khmer to unite, to remember and to uphold the great history of the Khmer people was written by Mr Nuon Kan on 12/09/1958. It was not written by Samdach Chuon Nath though our Samdach Chuon Nath was giving a lot of support and encouragement to publicize khmer nationalistic nature of this song.

English Translation

All Khmers, please remember the root and history of our great country
Our boundary was wide and well known
Others always thought highly of our race
And always placed our race as the elders.

We have great heritage and culture
Which has spread far and wide in the Far East.
Religion, arts and education,
Music, philosophy and strategies are all that we have spread.

All Khmers, please remember our roots and history
Which speaks of the grandeur of our great race
Make up your mind and body and try hard to rebuild
In order to lift the value of our nation
To once again rise to the greatness that we once had.

Source: Cambodian Buddhism, by Ian Harris

* Watch a video of Samdech Chuon Nath's Achievement by Youth Today-broadcast every Monday at 3.50pm and is supported by UNICEF and produced by Support Children and Young People (SCY)..."Cambodian buddhist scholar and humanist Samdech Chuon Nath is a beloved Cambodian hero. In this documentary the young reporters at Youth Today explore some of his many achievements including the creation of a Khmer dictionary. His protection of Khmer identity and history in the form of the national anthem, "Nokor Reach" and Savada Khmer are also amongst his contribution to the country."

* Samdech Chuon Nath's Achievement[Text]

On the 13th December 2005, at Wat Por Preik, otherwise known as Wat Poliyoum in Kandal Stung,Kandal Province held a ribbon cutting ceremony under the president of H.E.Minister of Ministry Information.

This is the first statue of Samdech Methea Thipadey Monk Choun Nath which is made from Samnang Stone from Kompong Thom province after 2 years preparation. The construction of this statue was driven by the initiation of members of press.

The reason they put this sculpture here was because this was his homeland and also the place where Samdech Sang Choun Nath commenced his life as a monk when he was 14 years old.

37 years ago after Samdech Sang Choun Nath passed away on 25 Semptember 1969 at Uonalom pagoda, Cambodian people recognized him as a Cambodian scholar of Buddhism and Humanism.

Lok Ta Nhaem Pring, Wat Por Preik commission:

I used to live with Samdech Sang Choun Nath and I became a monk. During that time he had tought me to understand about compassion, to pity, and have mercy for poor people.
Samdech Sang always gave advice to people to be aware of national identity, religion and king, especially the idea of nationalism.

Operator Kong Sreymeng:

Having watched the show, we would like to invite you to visit the achievements of Samdech Chuon Nath.

Samdech Choun Nath was born on 11 March 1883 in Kompong Speu province and he became a monk when he was 14 years old. He was also a frequent guest speaker on National Radio for interviews to explain Khmer literature. Samdech composed national anthem called Nokor Raech on the 20th of July 1941 in the Buddhist year of 2500.
And he left many achievements for young Cambodian people to follow.


Khiev Kanharith, H.E.Minister of Ministry Information:

Samdech Choun Nath started to raise awareness with Khmer people to love their literature and language. In 1960's, people who were considered mondern and developed were those who spoke French, but tried to explain to Cambodian people that we also have our own Khmer language.

In the past, we were proud of ourselves because we had Angkor Wat but in terms of language, French is a modern language. Therefore Samdech tried to make Cambodian people understand Khmer language and identity as having a role in the world.

Mr. Khiev Kola, a Press Agent:

Samdech Sang Choun Nath is a Khmer literature scholar, Khmer morality scholar. He advised Cambodian people to be neutral, unified and to follow Buddha's advice, particularly he found that Khmer ancestors had taught about the meaning of poverty.
He stated that poverty came from 5 Khmer concepts: Know (Kor deing), Understand (Kor Youl), Think (Kor Kich), Scheme (Kor Kol) and Creative (Kor Veiy Chhnay Tous).

Not only do old people have a good knowledge of Samdech Choun Nath but also the younger Cambodian generation know a lot about him.

A student from Chak Tou Muk secondary school, Vinorn Dariya:

I know he was the composer of our national anthem, and the Khmer Dictionary and other Buddhist speeches.

A student from Preah Sisowat High School, Chav Piseth:

I know he is the author Khmer Dictionary part 1 and part 2.

A student from Preah Sisowat High School, Tep Morneyroth:

I know him because he wrote the Sarapanh poem and the national anthem and the Khmer Dictionary part 1 and part 2.

Samdech Choun Nath passed away at the age of 87 in 1969 due to a heart blood vessel disease. His remains were put at Uonalom pagoda. Even though he passed away, he still left lots of achievements for Cambodian people for generations to come.

* Listen to Samdech Sang Chuon Nath's voice:

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From blog: Welcome to Cambodia, The Kingdom of Wonder...


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Welcome to Cambodia: Cambodian Culture Museum With North Korean Style

Cultural Cambodian Museum With North Korean Style

According to a Cambodia's newspaper, the PhnomPenhPost reported that a North Korean construction company is set to build and operate a US$10 million Cambodian culture museum in Siem Reap town. The museum will join a scarce number of North Korean businesses in the Kingdom, which experts say largely exist to funnel cash to the secretive state’s government.

The company behind the project has been named locally as Mansudae Corporation, a North Korean construction firm. It has built monuments in countries such as Senegal, Namibia and Angola and experts say its overseas operations appear to be increasing.

“I think they [Mansudae] are reasonably successful. We don’t have access to any of their financial records but the number of these sorts of projects continues to grow,” said Curtis Melvin, founder of the website North Korean Economy Watch.

While some of Mansudae’s former projects – almost entirely based in developing nations – have met with opposition, few Siem Reap residents seem to be aware of its Cambodian project.

During a visit to the site by The Phnom Penh Post last week, two North Korean workers said they work for Mansudae Corporation and had been in Siem Reap since June 1. A Cambodian security guard at a neighbouring construction site said up to 20 Korean workers had been present on the nearly empty plot.

The museum site is located about three kilometres from the city of Siem Reap, beside the grounds of a new ticketing office – also under construction – for the world-famous Angkor Wat Archaeological Park. Survey equipment, steel framing and fencing posts were on the site last Tuesday morning, but there was little other evidence of construction.

The finished cultural museum will be owned and operated by the North Korean company, said Youn Heng, director of the Evaluation and Incentive Department for Cambodian Investment at the Council for the Development of Cambodia, although he declined to confirm the corporation involved.

The Cambodian government approved a North Korean company’s US$10 million investment earlier this year, Youn Heng said.

Like the North Korean restaurants operating in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, experts believe Mansudae’s investment will be a source of funding for the cash-strapped nation.

“The main objective is economic: to raise hard currency. I don’t think they [North Korea] care much about making a political statement,” Melvin said.

“Looking at many of their [Mansudae] projects, you would never know they were being built by North Koreans unless you were told.”

While the two Koreas once battled for diplomatic presence in Asia, those days are largely over, said William Newcomb, a former senior advisor to the US Treasury Department. North Korea has cut back dramatically on funding for its overseas influence. Its budget is simply too tight, he said.

North Korean leverage, however, cannot be overlooked in Cambodia. The Pyongyang government still exercises “significant, quiet influence” in the Kingdom, Newcomb said.

Cambodia has seen high-level exchanges with North Korea since 2000.

North Korea’s minister of foreign affairs visited the Kingdom in July 2000, according to a statement from the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in North Korea.

The president of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly visited in 2001 and, during the visits, the two countries agreed to “further expand and strengthen their bilateral cooperation” in fields such as economics and culture, according to the statement.

Economic relations with North Korea are often cause for concern among human rights activists. Allowing a North Korean firm to operate in the Kingdom – and ostensibly fund the Kim Jong Il regime – is disconcerting, said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, from Thailand.

“It’s kind of worrisome that the Cambodian government would allow a country with one of the world’s worst human-rights records to portray their heritage … It’s almost like asking the former Khmer Rouge to portray Cambodian history,” Robertson said.

The museum was also source of unease to the few South Korean residents aware of the scheme, who expressed their discomfort to The Post following a period of rough relations between the two communities last late year.

The North Korean bombing of a South Korean island in November 2010 caused tension among Korean business owners in Siem Reap, one South Korean restaurant owner said. At the time, South Koreans were advised against visiting Siem Reap’s North Korean restaurants.

A representative from Apsara, the government body that manages Angkor and Siem Reap, said the two countries’ peoples can live peacefully in Cambodia.

“We recognise there are a lot of North Koreans and South Koreans living and doing business in this province. But there have been no disputes or confrontations like they have had in their own country,” Tan Sombon, deputy director general of Apsara, said.

Problems have arisen at other Mansudae sites. Some Senegalese took issue with the construction of the African Renaissance Monument, which Mansudae built in Dakar, Senegal in 2010.

Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow said he petitioned against the monument’s construction because hiring a corporation from an undemocratic country reflected poorly on his homeland.

The monument, the tallest in Africa at about 50-metres high, failed to capture the spirit of the African Renaissance due to its Stalinist appearance, Sow said from Paris.

“It represents absolutely nothing and its symbolism is absolutely zero,” he said.

In Siem Reap, the museum is virtually unknown.

Workers at tourism information centres in the visitor hub were unaware of the North Korean museum, as were members of the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Siem Reap’s South Korean Association.
The North Korean Embassy in Cambodia declined to comment on Mansudae’s project in Siem Reap.

A spokesperson from the South Korean Embassy in Cambodia said North Korean investment was unrelated to South Korean relations with the Kingdom.

Source: PhnomPenhPost


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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Angkor is One of The Most Important Archaeological Sites in South-East Asia

I'm very proud of Angkor Wat, Cambodia is one of The Most Important Archaeological Sites in South-East Asia...

Angkor Wat from the top air

About Angkor Wat:

Angkor Wat (Khmer: អង្គរវត្ត) is a temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia, built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. It is the world's largest religious building. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors. Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early South Indian Hindu architecture, with key features such as the Jagati. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and for the numerous devatas (guardian spirits) adorning its walls.

The modern name, Angkor Wat, means "City Temple"; Angkor is a vernacular form of the word នគរ nokor which comes from the Sanskrit word नगर nagara meaning capital or city. Wat is the Khmer word for temple. Prior to this time the temple was known as Preah Pisnulok, after the posthumous title of its founder, Suryavarman II.

Source: Wikipedia

Angkor Wat History:

Angkor Wat lies 5.5 km north of the modern town of Siem Reap, and a short distance south and slightly east of the previous capital, which was centred at Baphuon. It is in an area of Cambodia where there is an important group of ancient structures. It is the southernmost of Angkor's main sites.

The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century, during the reign of Suryavarman II (ruled 1113 – c. 1150). Dedicated to Vishnu, it was built as the king's state temple and capital city. As neither the foundation stela nor any contemporary inscriptions referring to the temple have been found, its original name is unknown, but it may have been known as Vrah Vishnulok after the presiding deity. Work seems to have ended shortly after the king's death, leaving some of the bas-relief decoration unfinished. In 1177, approximately 27 years after the death of Suryavarman II, Angkor was sacked by the Chams, the traditional enemies of the Khmer. Thereafter the empire was restored by a new king, Jayavarman VII, who established a new capital and state temple (Angkor Thom and the Bayon respectively) a few kilometres to the north.

In the late 13th century, Angkor Wat gradually moved from Hindu to Theravada Buddhist use, which continues to the present day. Angkor Wat is unusual among the Angkor temples in that although it was somewhat neglected after the 16th century it was never completely abandoned, its preservation being due in part to the fact that its moat also provided some protection from encroachment by the jungle.

One of the first Western visitors to the temple was Antonio da Magdalena, a Portuguese monk who visited in 1586 and said that it "is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of". However, the temple was popularised in the West only in the mid-19th century on the publication of Henri Mouhot's travel notes. The French explorer wrote of it:

"One of these temples—a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo—might take an honourable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged."

Mouhot, like other early Western visitors, found it difficult to believe that the Khmers could have built the temple, and mistakenly dated it to around the same era as Rome. The true history of Angkor Wat was pieced together only from stylistic and epigraphic evidence accumulated during the subsequent clearing and restoration work carried out across the whole Angkor site.

There were no ordinary dwellings or houses or other signs of settlement including cooking utensils, weapons, or items of clothing usually found at ancient sites. Instead there is the evidence of the monuments themselves.

Angkor Wat required considerable restoration in the 20th century, mainly the removal of accumulated earth and vegetation. Work was interrupted by the civil war and Khmer Rouge control of the country during the 1970s and 1980s, but relatively little damage was done during this period other than the theft and destruction of mostly post-Angkorian statues.

The temple is a powerful symbol of Cambodia, and is a source of great national pride that has factored into Cambodia's diplomatic relations with its neighbour Thailand, France and the United States. A depiction of Angkor Wat has been a part of Cambodian national flags since the introduction of the first version circa 1863.

The splendid artistic legacy of Angkor Wat and other Khmer monuments in the Angkor region led directly to France adopting Cambodia as a protectorate on 11 August 1863. This quickly led to Cambodia reclaiming lands in the northwestern corner of the country that had been under Thai control since the Thai invasion of 1431 AD. Cambodia gained independence from France on 9 November 1953 and has controlled Angkor Wat since that time.

During the midst of the Vietnam War, Chief of State Norodom Sihanouk hosted Jacqueline Kennedy in Cambodia to fulfill her "lifelong dream of seeing Angkor Wat."

In January 2003 riots erupted in Phnom Penh when a false rumour circulated that a Thai soap opera actress had claimed that Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand.

Source: Wikipedia

Angkor Wat today:

The Archaeological Survey of India carried out restoration work on the temple between 1986 and 1992. Since the 1990s, Angkor Wat has seen continued conservation efforts and a massive increase in tourism. The temple is part of the Angkor World Heritage Site, established in 1992, which has provided some funding and has encouraged the Cambodian government to protect the site. The German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) is working to protect the devatas and other bas-reliefs which decorate the temple from damage. The organisation's survey found that around 20% of the devatas were in very poor condition, mainly because of natural erosion and deterioration of the stone but in part also due to earlier restoration efforts. Other work involves the repair of collapsed sections of the structure, and prevention of further collapse: the west facade of the upper level, for example, has been buttressed by scaffolding since 2002, while a Japanese team completed restoration of the north library of the outer enclosure in 2005. World Monuments Fund began work on the Churning of the Sea of Milk Gallery in 2008.

Angkor Wat has become a major tourist destination. In 2004 and 2005, government figures suggest that, respectively, 561,000 and 677,000 foreign visitors arrived in Siem Reap province, approximately 50% of all foreign tourists in Cambodia for both years. The site has been managed by the private SOKIMEX group since 1990, which rented it from the Cambodian government. The influx of tourists has so far caused relatively little damage, other than some graffiti; ropes and wooden steps have been introduced to protect the bas-reliefs and floors, respectively. Tourism has also provided some additional funds for maintenance—as of 2000 approximately 28% of ticket revenues across the whole Angkor site was spent on the temples—although most work is carried out by foreign government-sponsored teams rather than by the Cambodian authorities.

Source: Wikipedia

Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia:

Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.

Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. It contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th centuries. The influence of Khmer art, as developed at Angkor, was a profound one over much of South-East Asia and played a fundamental role in its distinctive evolution. Khmer architecture evolved largely from that of the Indian subcontinent, from which it soon became clearly distinct as it developed its own special characteristics, some independently evolved and others acquired from neighbouring cultural traditions. The result was a new artistic horizon in oriental art and architecture.

At the beginning of the 9th century the two states that covered the territory of modern Cambodia were united by Jayavarman II, who laid the foundations of the Khmer Empire, the major power in south-east Asia for some five centuries. One of the sites was in central Cambodia, to the north of Tonle Sap (Great Lake), where half a century later Jayavarman's son, Yashovarman, was to establish Yashodapura (later called Angkor), the permanent capital of the Khmer Empire until the 15th century.

The first city conformed with the classic form of Khmer capital with certain fundamental elements: a defensive bank and ditch with a state temple at its centre, built from brick or stone, and a wooden palace. There would also have been many secular buildings, constructed almost entirely of wood, in and around the enceinte. The state temple at Roluos, the Bakong, and the temple built in memory of the royal ancestors, Preah Ko, were erected around 880. Another essential feature of a Khmer capital, a large reservoir, was added a decade later, with in its centre a third temple built to the north-west of Roluos, around the hill of Phnom Bakeng, now known as the Eastern Baray.

The second capital at Angkor was built by Rajendravarman in the 960s, the state temple being situated at Pre Rup. He also constructed a temple, the Eastern Mebon, on an artificial island in the centre of the Eastern Baray. During his reign he built the exquisite temple of Banteay Srei. Rajendravarman's son, Jayavarman V, abandoned the Pre Rup site in favour of a new location with its state temple at Ta Kev, which was consecrated around 1000. Shortly afterwards he was overthrown by Suryavarman I, who was responsible for erecting the formidable fortifications around his Royal Palace and state temple, the Phimeanakas, and also for the construction of the great Western Baray.

In 1050 his successor created a new and more impressive state temple, the Baphuon. The succeeding rulers left little traces in the form of monumental buildings, and it was not until the accession of Suryavarman II in 1113 that the next great phase of building began. He was responsible for the greatest of all Khmer monuments, Angkor Vat, set within an extensive enclosure and dedicated to Vishnu. The death of Suryavarman II, around 1150, was followed by a period of internal strife and external pressure, culminating in 1177 with the sack of Angkor by the Chams. The situation was restored by Jayavarman VII, who celebrated his military success by creating yet another capital at Angkor Thorn and launching an unprecedented building campaign. His state temple was the towering Bayon, dedicated to Buddha.

Another significant element of the Angkor complex is the irrigation system of the region based on the great reservoirs, which provided the economic infrastructure for the successive Khmer capitals and their rulers.


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Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Welcome to Cambodia: Seven big movies shoot in Cambodia

Cambodia movies

Better technical training for film crews has led to an increase in the number of international film productions shooting in Cambodia, according to the director of the Cambodia Film Commission, Cheap Sovichea.

“Every year, we’ve had only one or two international film productions. But at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, we’ve had seven big international film productions and many smaller productions from France, USA, and Italy contacting us to film in Cambodia,” said Cheap Sovichea.

“Because we have only a small local market for the film industry in Cambodia, the CFC is responsible for scouting potential Cambodian film locations, arranging authorisations and other coordination for foreign
film productions,” he said.

“We have also provided professional training courses and seminars about film to Cambodians who have worked with international film makers in the past to attract more international productions,” he added.

We spoke to several film crew members who felt they had benefited from CFC courses. Houn Pilot said he was just a simple worker before he joined a lighting crew on a film.

“I became really interested in this work and I’ve found out more about it from different international film makers, but they didn’t always have time to share their knowledge,” he said.

“But now we have had training at CFC, so I think it’s good that we have many Cambodian professional film workers to share experiences with each other,” Houn Pilot added.

Kim Sitha used to be a tour guide for English and Thai tourists in Siem Reap, but has since worked his way up through the ranks to become an assistant film director.


Read more at http://www.phnompenhpost.com


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