Famed Songwriter, Novelist Dies in Norway at 78

Kong Bun Chhoeun, whose songs have been performed by Cambodia’s most famous singers since the 1960s and who fled the country after writing a scathing book about an acid attack on his niece, died in Norway on Sunday morning.

He was 78.

Kong Bun Chhoeun
Kong Bun Chhoeun

“My family has very deep sorrow as the writer Kong Bun Chhoeun…who was a husband, father, father-in-law [and] grandfather has left us and is not coming back,” his son-in-law Moth Thary wrote in a post to Facebook.

Kong Bun Chhoeun’s songs were covered by stars from Sinn Sisamouth, one of the defining voices of 1960s pop music, to Preap Sovath, who is among today’s most beloved crooners.

In 2000, Kong Bun Chhoeun penned the book “Fate of Tat Marina,” an ostensibly fictionalized account of a brutal acid attack that left his niece disfigured and was allegedly carried out by the jealous wife of a senior government official.

Though he has not returned to the country since, having been granted asylum in Norway in 2005, a spokesman for the Culture Ministry said on Sunday that the writer’s work should live on.

“I saw him as a person who loved writing and literature, such as writing songs, novels, films and more,” said spokesman Thai Norak Sathya. “Maintaining his masterpieces, as well as those of others, is the duty of all of us to some extent.”

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