Forty Years Post-Khmer Rouge, New Generation Returns to Cambodia

Decades after his parents fled the country following the brutal genocidal Khmer Rouge regime that would ultimately kill an estimated 1.7 million people, Ung left America – and all its comforts – to return to his family’s homeland of Cambodia, a country where poverty is striking, heat unrelenting, and cultural norms sometimes perplexing for those who are unaccustomed.


During and after the nearly four-year Khmer Rouge reign, several hundred thousand Cambodians fled, becoming refugees in faraway countries. In the U.S., many ended up in places like Long Beach, California, or Lowell, Massachusetts. Now, many of children of those who left are returning to their family’s homeland, eager to learn about a country, culture and history that has shaped them since they were born. (Words by Kristi Eaton, Multimedia by Nicolas Axelrod and Thomas Cristofoletti/Ruom/for NBC News)

Nicolas Axelrod and Thomas Cristofoletti are multimedia journalists based in Cambodia and associated with Ruom, an organic collaboration between photographers, journalists, videographers, and researchers, drawn together by a passion for social documentary work. – See more at:

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