Anthony Kuhn

Foreign Correspondent Anthony Kuhn is currently based in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he opened NPR’s first bureau in that country in 2010. From there, he covers Southeast Asia, and the gamut of natural and human diversity stretching from Myanmar to Fiji and Vietnam to Tasmania.

Prior to Jakarta, Kuhn spent five years based in Beijing as a NPR foreign correspondent reporting on China and Northeast Asia. In that time Kuhn covered stories including the affect of China’s resurgence on rest of the world, diplomacy and the environment, the ancient cultural traditions that still exert a profound influence in today's China, and the people's quest for social justice in a period of rapid modernization and uneven development. His beat also included such diverse topics as popular theater in Japan and the New York Philharmonic’s 2008 musical diplomacy tour to Pyongyang, North Korea.

In 2004-2005, Kuhn was based in London for NPR. He covered stories ranging from the 2005 terrorist attacks on London's transport system to the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. In the spring of 2005, he reported from Iraq on the formation of the post-election interim government.

Kuhn began contributing reports to NPR from China in 1996. During that time, he also worked as an accredited freelance reporter with the Los Angeles Times, and as Beijing correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review.

In what felt to him a previous incarnation, Kuhn once lived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and walked down Broadway to work in Chinatown as a social worker. He majored in French literature at Washington University in St. Louis. He gravitated to China in the early 1980s, studying first at the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute and later at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing.

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6:23pm

Wed June 20, 2012
World

Time At Oxford Spurred Suu Kyi's Burma Activism

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 9:16 pm

Aung San Suu Kyi finally received her honorary degree from Oxford University after it was initially awarded in 1993. In her speech, Suu Kyi praised Oxford for helping her see humankind at its best during her long years under house arrest in Myanmar.
Lefteris Pitarakis AP

Aung San Suu Kyi would probably not be the symbol of Burma's quest for democracy without her experiences at Oxford University. She studied there in the 1960s and raised a family there in the '70s.

Suu Kyi returned to her alma mater Wednesday to receive the honorary degree she was unable to collect for more than a decade while under house arrest.

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4:46am

Wed June 20, 2012
Europe

Oxford To Honor Suii Kyi After Years Of House Arrest

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 9:26 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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3:54pm

Tue June 12, 2012
Asia

A Nobel Acceptance Speech — Two Decades Overdue

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 10:49 pm

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi is heading to Europe for the first time in more than two decades and will be giving a series of high-profile speeches She's shown here on June 2 meeting with Myanmarese refugees who are living in camps in Thailand.
Pornchai Kittiwongsakul AFP/Getty Images

Aung San Suu Kyi heads to Europe Wednesday, where she'll deliver a speech she was invited to give more than two decades ago: the one for her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, which she was unable to collect while under house arrest.

In Myanmar's largest city, Yangon, at the headquarters of Suu Kyi's party, spokesman U Nyan Win says she is busy writing speeches for her extended trip to Europe, including the visit to Oslo for the belated Nobel address this weekend.

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9:53am

Sun June 3, 2012
Asia

'Like Our Own Mother': Aung San Suu Kyi In Thailand

Originally published on Sun June 3, 2012 7:36 pm

Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi waves to Myanmar refugees during her visit to the Mae La refugee camp near the Thai-Myanmar border on Saturday.
Pornchai Kittiwongsakul AFP/Getty Images

On her first journey abroad in 24 years, Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi upstaged and dazzled world leaders with her statesmanship and charisma.

Suu Kyi attended an international economic forum in Thailand last week, but Saturday was very different. She visited a camp on the Thai-Myanmar border, where refugees have fled to escape oppression and civil war in her homeland. The visit showed that despite becoming one of the most prominent politicians in Asia, her political situation at home remains a bit precarious.

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4:01pm

Mon May 28, 2012
Asia

For Future Energy, Volcanic Indonesia Bets On Heat

Originally published on Mon May 28, 2012 11:30 pm

A local resident entertains visitors to the Kawah Kamojang geothermal field in West Java. He puts a length of bamboo to the steam coming from the ground to make a whistle, then throws soda cans into the vent, which shoots them high into the air. The Dutch colonial government drilled Indonesia's first geothermal wells at Kamojang in 1926, when the country was still known as the Dutch East Indies.
Yosef Riadi for NPR

Indonesia, the country with the world's largest number of active volcanoes, is betting that all the hot rocks will provide a clean and reliable energy source for the future.

The country is believed have 40 percent of the world's geothermal energy resources. But making geothermal energy economically feasible will require adjusting the country's heavily subsidized energy prices. And that issue is a political hot potato.

Unused Potential

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1:20pm

Thu May 24, 2012
Asia

Hard-Line Muslims Confront Indonesia's Christians

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 9:37 pm

Muslims (in the foreground) face a group of Christians during a bloody clash in Ambon, the provincial capital of Indonesia's Maluku Island, on Sept. 11, 2011. The riot exposed deep fault lines between Christians and Muslims in Indonesia.
Angkotasan Getty Images

In the city of Bekasi, Indonesia, outside Jakarta, a handful of Christians head to Sunday worship. But before they can reach their destination, they are stopped and surrounded by a large crowd of local Muslims who jeer at them and demand that they leave.

This is the Filadelfia congregation, a Lutheran group. They are ethnic Bataks from the neighboring island of Sumatra who have migrated to Bekasi, and they have been blocked from holding services on several occasions. Recently, a journalist who demonstrated in support of the congregation was beaten by an angry mob.

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4:41pm

Wed May 16, 2012
Asia

U.S. Forces In Australia Draw Mixed Reaction

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 7:34 pm

U.S. Marines are shown during a training exercise south of Darwin, Australia. Marines recently arrived in Australia as part of a move by the U.S. to place greater emphasis on Asia and the Pacific.
Glenn Campbell The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Since a small contingent of Marines landed in the northern port town of Darwin last month, the U.S. has shown greater interest in using Australian military facilities as part of a larger effort to refocus its military capabilities in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific.

"We have no better ally or friend in the world than Australia, and we have no area in the world which is as important or dynamic over the next 50 years as the Asia Pacific," says Jeffrey Bleich, the U.S. ambassador to Australia.

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3:08pm

Mon May 14, 2012
Asia

Australia's Poker Machines: Are They Too Popular?

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 7:49 pm

Gambling machines are extremely popular in Australia, and there are concerns about the level of gambling addiction. Opinion polls show that many Australians would like to see greater regulation of gambling.
Paul Miller Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's a weekday night at the Welcome Stranger pub in downtown Melbourne. Tom Cummings, who used to be a regular here, shows me around the gaming room.

"This machine here, which is called Shaman's Magic, has four different jackpots that you can win. If you'd like to give it a whirl, you can see how you go," says Cummings.

The machines here take Australian $50 bills (Australian dollars are currently worth almost exactly the same as U.S. dollars). You can lose $1,200 in an hour. And a win is not always what it appears to be.

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3:34am

Mon April 30, 2012
Asia

Drama Amid Indonesia's Disappearing Mangroves

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 7:36 am

A man gathering firewood to sell cuts down mangrove trees in the coastal area of Medan city on Indonesia's Sumatra island on Jan. 31. The country, which has one-quarter of the world's mangroves, is losing them at a rate of 6 percent a year. The coastal forests play important ecological and environmental roles.
Suntanta Aditya AFP/Getty Images

The rising tide laps at the feet of local children and fishermen and submerges all but the tops of the mangrove trees of Tiwoho village in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province. At one degree of latitude north of the equator, the climate here is about the same all year round: hot, wet and perfect for the forests of salt-tolerant trees that grow along sheltered coastlines.

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3:22am

Mon April 9, 2012
Asia

Exposing Indonesia's Cold War Communist Purge

Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 11:29 am

Indonesian President Sukarno (left) surrenders his executive powers to Gen. Suharto, Feb. 22, 1967, in Jakarta. Suharto led the anti-communist purge and ruled the country until 1998.
AP

The wall of silence in Indonesia surrounding one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century is beginning to fall apart. A forthcoming report by Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights estimates that a purge of suspected communists during the mid-1960s killed between 600,000 and 1 million people.

The violence reshaped Indonesia's political landscape and affected the course of the Cold War, just as the U.S. was escalating its fight against communism in Southeast Asia.

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8:00am

Sun April 1, 2012
Asia

Myanmar Party Says Dissident Leader Wins Election

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 10:33 pm

Supporters of the opposition National League for Democracy celebrate their victory in parliamentary elections outside the party headquarters in Yangon, Myanmar, on Sunday. The results could help to consolidate support for political reforms and herald the end of foreign sanctions on the country.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

Supporters of the main opposition party in Myanmar, also known as Burma, filled the streets of the capital, celebrating Sunday a projected victory in closely watched parliamentary by-elections, as the party announced that its leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won a seat in the country's parliament for the first time.

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4:50pm

Fri March 30, 2012
Asia

Myanmar Hurriedly Prepares For An Election

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 5:33 pm

A man holds a portrait of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a rally for a candidate of her National League for Democracy party on Friday. The country is holding elections for some parliamentary seats on Sunday.
Christophe Archambault AFP/Getty Images

In Myanmar's capital, Yangon, there's an unremarkable old building that's drawing people from around the world.

It's the headquarters of the National League for Democracy, the political opposition party headed by pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. This weekend, she is running for elective office for the first time, and the humble house has become the focus of even greater attention.

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3:27am

Fri March 30, 2012
Asia

Myanmar's Election Seen As A Test Of Reforms

Myanmar opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to supporters on Saturday. Voting in parliamentary elections this Sunday is considered a test of the political reforms that Myanmar's rulers have introduced over the past year.
Khin Maung Win AP

Myanmar has an election this Sunday where only a small fraction of the parliamentary seats are at stakes — and yet the ballot is commanding international attention.

The closely watched election is seen as a test of whether the country's rulers are sincere about reforms they have been introducing over the past year.

If the vote is seen as free and fair, it could prompt Western governments to begin lifting sanctions imposed during the half-century of military rule in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

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2:39pm

Mon March 12, 2012
Rebuilding Japan

Rethinking, Not Just Rebuilding, Japan's Northeast

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 9:56 pm

Demolished ships lie strewn about near the fishing port of Minamisanriku town, in Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan, Feb. 23, 2012. The local fisherman's union says last year's tsunami wiped out 90 percent of local fishing boats.
Yuriko Makao Reuters /Landov

With a fierce yell and a resounding thwack, 13-year-old Japanese student Nanami Usui brings her bamboo sword down on her opponent.

By practicing Kendo, or Japanese swordsmanship, Usui is one of several students in the town of Minamisanriku who are rebuilding their confidence after last year's tsunami washed away their homes and shattered their hometown in the country's northeast.

Usui says she dreams of being a police officer, but she doesn't know yet where she wants to live and work.

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8:00am

Sun March 11, 2012
Asia

Japanese Village Marks Disasters' Anniversary

Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 9:49 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Japan is remembering the massive earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people and triggered a nuclear crisis a year ago today. At 2:46 P.M. local time, trains stopped, sirens blared, and people across Japan bowed their heads in silence. But one year on, rebuilding has not even begun on much of the country's devastated northeast coast.

And as NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports, the fishing town of Minamisanriku is still too early for most of the wounds to heal.

(SOUNDBITE OF A BELL AND A CHANTING BUDDHIST MONK)

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12:01am

Fri March 9, 2012
Rebuilding Japan

A Year On, Japan Is Still Looking For The Road Ahead

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 11:09 am

Members of the media, wearing protective suits and masks, visit the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power station during a press tour, in northeastern Japan's Fukushima prefecture, Feb. 28. Japan is marking the first anniversary of the March 11 tsunami and earthquake, which triggered the worst nuclear accident in the country's history.
Kimimasa Mayama AP

A year after suffering the worst nuclear accident in its history, Japan is still struggling to understand what happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant in the country's northeast.

Last week, an independent commission released a report arguing that Japan narrowly averted what could have been a far deadlier disaster and that the government withheld this information from the public.

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3:58pm

Tue February 28, 2012
Asia

How Far Will The Changes In Myanmar Go?

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 3:00 pm

Supporters greet Myanmar's pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, atop her vehicle, as she arrives at an election campaign rally in Thongwa village, Myanmar, on Sunday. The country's new government is holding legislative elections on April 1.
Altaf Qadri AP

Once an international pariah ruled by a repressive military regime, Myanmar has in recent months become one of Southeast Asia's hottest destinations.

Last year, a nominally civilian government took over and began political changes in the country also known as Burma. Now, foreign investors and tourists are flooding in, and foreign governments are considering lifting their sanctions.

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4:00am

Thu February 16, 2012
Asia

Thailand Squeezed In Iran-Israel Shadow War

Originally published on Sun February 19, 2012 8:47 am

Thailand says three Iranians arrested this week were planning to assassinate Israeli diplomats in Bangkok. The bombs went off on Tuesday, wounding one Iranian and four Thai residents. Since then, Israel and Iran have been trading accusations of waging shadow warfare against each other through a series of recent attempted assassinations in several countries.

12:01am

Wed February 15, 2012
Asia

Opposition Leader Bets On Myanmar Reforms

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 1:31 pm

Ethnic Karen women welcome opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to War Thein Kha village. The area is in Kawhmu Township, which Suu Kyi is campaigning to represent in Myanmar's parliament.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

The military-backed government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has surprised many skeptics with the pace of its political reforms — releasing political prisoners, easing censorship and making peace with ethnic insurgents.

But none of these reforms have won it as much praise as its efforts to mend fences with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. After nearly two decades under house arrest, Suu Kyi is now aiming to work for democracy within the system by running for a seat in parliament.

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12:01am

Mon January 30, 2012
Religion

'Obedient Wives Club' Irks Some Muslims In Malaysia

Last June, some employees at the Global Ikhwan Café, in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, established the Obedient Wives Club. Global Ikhwan (Ikhwan is Arabic for "brotherhood") owns businesses in several countries.

Since then, it has been castigated for what Muslim and non-Muslim critics call a "medieval and oppressive interpretation of Islam."

The controversy surprised club organizer Dr. Azlina Jamaluddin. She says that her group is merely suggesting a way to deal with social problems in Malaysia such as a rising divorce rate.

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3:43pm

Thu January 19, 2012
Asia

In Malaysia, Student Challenges Limits On Politics

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 10:16 pm

Student activist Adam Adli addresses protesters outside Malaysia's high court in Kuala Lumpur on Jan. 9. The crowd was awaiting a verdict in the trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was acquitted on charges of sodomy shortly afterward. Adam is leading the fight to abolish a decades-old law that bans college students from joining or speaking in support of political parties.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

In Asia's modern history, college students have played a leading role in pushing for political reform and challenging authoritarian regimes.

Adam Adli is one of these student activists, and is becoming a prominent political figure as he fights to abolish a 40-year-old law that bars college students in the prosperous Southeast Asian country from participating in politics.

The 22-year-old was among the crowd of thousands chanting "reformasi," or reform, outside Malaysia's high court in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Jan. 9.

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3:29pm

Wed January 4, 2012
Asia

Indonesian Economy Booms, Its Infrastructure Groans

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 10:40 pm

Motorists inch their way in heavy traffic in Palembang, Sumatra, in Indonesia. The nation's rapid growth is overwhelming its weak public infrastructure.
Ted Aljibe AFP/Getty Images

Indonesia has one of the world's fastest growing economies, and it's already the largest in Southeast Asia. This growth and stability recently earned it a major credit upgrade at a time when Western countries are fearful of downgrades.

Yet this vibrant economy has an Achilles' heel: its crumbling, overwhelmed infrastructure.

The problem becomes painfully apparent this time every year, when the rainy season fills commuters with dread in the capital, Jakarta, and many other cities.

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5:13am

Wed December 28, 2011
Asia

North Korea's Power Transfer Moving Smoothly

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:10 am

This photo provided by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows Kim Jong Un, center, with his hand on the limousine bearing his father Kim Jong Il's body during the funeral procession in Pyongyang.
Korean Central News Agency

Capping more than a week of public mourning, North Korea staged a dramatic state funeral for its late leader, Kim Jong Il. Leading the ceremonies was Kim's third son and apparent successor, Kim Jong Un.

North Korean media reports portray the younger Kim, who is reportedly in his late 20s, in full control of the impoverished, nuclear-armed country. But while consolidating his political power may be easy, establishing his legitimacy will be tougher.

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4:00am

Thu December 22, 2011
Asia

North Korea's Heir Apparent Has His Work Cut Out For Him

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 9:44 pm

Kim Jong Un, heir apparent to North Korea's longtime leader Kim Jong Il, faces formidable challenges in the isolated communist nation.
Kyodo/file

While North Korea is preparing for the state funeral of longtime leader Kim Jong Il next week, attention is quickly turning to his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong Un. Even veteran Pyongyang watchers know little about the successor. But it's clear what he's inheriting: a country in dire economic straits, and a tough fight to consolidate his political power and legitimacy.

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10:22pm

Sun December 18, 2011
Remembrances

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Dies At 69

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:11 am

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during a visit to Siberia in August. He died Saturday at age 69, according to state-run North Korean television.
Dmitry Astakhov AFP/Getty Images

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il has died of apparent heart failure. He was 69.

In a "special broadcast" Monday from the North Korean capital, state media said Kim died on a train due to a "great mental and physical strain" during a "high-intensity field inspection" Saturday. It said an autopsy done Sunday "fully confirmed" the diagnosis.

Kim Jong Il wanted his successor to be his son, Kim Jong Un, who is believed to be in his late 20s. But there was no immediate word on a new leader in North Korea.

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12:01am

Tue November 22, 2011
Asia

In Cambodia, Aging Khmer Rouge Leaders Go On Trial

Originally published on Tue November 22, 2011 1:40 pm

A Cambodian woman looks at portraits of Khmer Rouge victims at the Tuol Sleng genocide museum in the capital Phnom Penh on Nov. 17. Three senior Khmer Rouge leaders are on trial in what may be the last major legal case against the group's leaders.
Tang Chhin Sothy AFP/Getty Images

In Cambodia this week, three elderly men are sitting in a courtroom, accused of atrocities that took place in the 1970s.

The three former leaders of the radical Khmer Rouge are on trial for their role in a regime that exterminated more than 2 million people — or roughly a quarter of the country's population.

The Khmer Rouge was forced from power more than three decades ago, its former leaders are growing old, and this may be the final trial held by the U.N.-backed tribunal.

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4:00am

Fri November 18, 2011
Asia

Obama In Bali For East Asia Summit

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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3:43pm

Wed November 16, 2011
Asia

Cambodia Tries To Curb Foreign Men Seeking Wives

On any given night, foreign visitors throng the many bars, restaurants and hotels overlooking the Tonle Sap River on bustling Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. Among them, foreign men accompanied with Cambodian women are a common sight.

Just up the street is Rory's Pub, where a Celtic cross and a Bushmills whiskey sign hang on the wall.

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3:48am

Wed November 16, 2011
Asia

In Indonesia, Anger Against Mining Giant Grows

Originally published on Wed November 16, 2011 8:22 pm

Police clash with workers of American mining company Freeport-McMoRan during a protest in Timika, Papua province, Indonesia, Oct. 10. Indonesian security forces fired on striking workers at Freeport-McMoRan's Grasberg gold and copper mine after a protest turned deadly.
Anonymous AP

A foreign mining company, protected by hundreds of soldiers, extracts precious resources from a remote tropical forest. The mining enrages indigenous tribes, who resist.

It may sound like a movie script, but it is in fact the story of the world's largest gold mine, located high in the mountains of Indonesia's Papua province and owned by Freeport-McMoRan, an American mining conglomerate.

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1:49pm

Mon October 31, 2011
Asia

Dream Sparks Events That Reunite Cambodian Family

Originally published on Mon October 31, 2011 3:27 pm

In 1975, the Khmer Rouge told the family of Peou Nam that he had been executed. After 36 years of separation, hardship and an unusual series of events, the family was reunited in June this year. Son Phyrun visits his father at his farmhouse in southern Cambodia's Kampot province.

Anthony Kuhn NPR

On a recent day, Peou Phyrun steers his motorcycle down the rutted dirt road to his father's home in southern Cambodia's Kampot province. His father, 85-year-old Peou Nam, lives in a traditional Khmer farmhouse on stilts, where sugar palms tower over verdant rice paddies like giant dandelions on a lawn.

Like so many other families in Cambodia, theirs was torn apart by the Khmer Rouge. But unlike so many others, they were able to find each other, 36 years later, through a most unusual sequence of events.

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