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Top Personalities from Cambodia

From its turbulent times that shocked the world to a more peaceful one which see the nation transform into a more prosperous kingdom under the rule of a monarch, to seemingly ordinary people, Cambodia is full of people that, in one way or another, left a mark that cannot be erased in man’s history.

The following are Cambodia’s most famous people renowned by the history they left with the people of their time:

Norodom Sihanouk

Affectionately referred to as “Samdech Euv” by the Khmers or literally Father Prince in English, Sihanouk was a monarch who brought freedom to his country from the subjugation of France post-World War II. Not only was Norodom beloved for his royal bloodline, he was also an effective ruler to his country even at a time when the monarchy has been abolished.

With leanings towards communism and natural opposition towards US and its anti-communist allies, Sihanouk was in part responsible to the spread and rule of communism in Cambodia but not after fleeing his own country and returning once again as its figurehead.

Former Cambodia King Norodom Sihanouk from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 to 2004

Lon Nol

With the former king-turned-political-leader, Norodom Sihanouk, come into exile, this run from his country is not without its cause. The event that led to the loved leader’s flee to another country, China and subsequently North Korea, was no other than the Military Coup of March 1970 which was led by then-military general, Lon Nol.

As Norodom is out of the country in exile, the Khmer Republic was formed which placed Nol as a self-proclaimed president and commander-in-chief of the new republic.

Lon Nol, 7th President of the Khmer Republic

Pol Pot

Along with the spread of communism in Cambodia lies a controlling figure in the persona of Pol Pot who assumed the role of General Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea from 1963 to 1981. Pol Pot is remembered as a leader of the Khmer Rouge who reduced the Cambodian population by a quarter through means that are considered inhumane, apart from execution.

Pol Pot is remembered as a dictator and a war criminal to the Khmer people.

Pol pot, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kampuchea

Norodom Sihamoni

Although born to a royal family, Sihamoni spent most of his life outside of his own country. As young as a child, he left the country for Prague where he studied for much of his childhood until adolescence and which he treated as a second home to.

Born with artistic talents and a natural fascination towards culture and performing arts, he finished his studies in Classical Music and Dance at Czechoslovakia’s ‘Academy of Music Arts.’

Further improving his artistic skills, he moved to North Korea to learn the art of film making.

With Europe much to call his “real” home more than his country of origin, Norodom Sihamoni spent his next 20 years in Paris where he does teaching and dance choreography, even forming his own group called ‘Ballet Deva.’

Considered politically unbiased, Sihamoni was chosen by his father and again king of Cambodia to succeed the throne which, at 2004, led to his ascension.

Although there were doubts involving the new king’s leadership even prior to his picking, Sihamoni’s performance had been satisfactory. He is known for his programs centered towards health care and education specifically aimed at rural areas.

Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia
October 14, 2004 – present

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