1940 - 1955 : King sihanouk


King Norodom Sihanouk (1922 - 2012) reigned over Cambodia as King, between 1941 to 1955. He campaigned for Cambodias independence from french rule, which was granted in 1953. From 1955 to 1970 he governed over Cambodia politically, and was Head of State of Cambodia from 1960, till Lon Nol's military coup in 1970, Fleeing Cambodia he formed a resistance in exile in China and North Korea. He supported the Khmer Rouge, who fought against the US backed Khmer Republic, in the Cambodian Civil War. 

King Sihanouk Inspecting tribesmen armed with wooden weapons

King Sihanouk Inspecting tribesmen armed with wooden weapons

Under the french, minority groups lived in fear. Women and children would go into hiding in the forest when the french were approaching, to avoid assaults. Throughout the country, as well as in the highlands with the indigenous minorities, tensions in Cambodia were arising, and small conflicts were erupting. 

Before independence in 1953, there were indigenous rebellions against the french, of which King Sihanouk supported. During this period, the King made visits to the highland communities, supporting them in their rebellion, as well as recruiting the minority groups. His support resulted in a long running gratitude from the minority groups, which later influenced many of them to join the khmer rouge, to help restore the king after Lon Nol. 

The presence of the french had an impact on the indigenous groups in the highland areas. This later pushed ethnic minorities to join the khmer rouge in support of the King who once supported them. 

During 1941-1945 Cambodia was occupied by the Japanese empire, of which many of the indigenous elders still remember from their childhoods.  Recalling conflicts between french and Japanese troops in the highlands. 


Continuing the search for stories, I also looked for traces of the french that have been left behind; in the form of old monuments, plantations, and memories.