Shinichi Asabe Article Collection

The People of Southeast Asia

Cambodia Golden Oldies Continuing to be SungDecember 2019

Mo Van Thida who sings Japanese oldies just because she loves them not because she considers Japanese customers is 21 years old, at a night club in Phnom Penh “Happy Palace”.

It was in 1987, still during the Civil War, when I went to Cambodia to gather news materials as a correspondent of a newspaper company. Since then, I have visited this country dozens of times over 30 years, and there, I have heard Japanese melodies sung in Khmer on countless occasions, which has been in my mind for a long time. However, this topic was still within my personal interest and I could not make it a news theme and only the days and months went by.

In Cambodia in recent years, opposition politicians cannot return to the country from their exiles and journalists of newspaper companies and TV stations can report nothing but propaganda of the dictatorship, and if they oppose, they face a fear for their physical safety. I have to say the situation is far from being democratic.


Pan Ron, a national singer in the Sihanouk and Lon Nol eras, sang “Love me to the bone”, a big hit, with the melody of “Here is my happiness (1956)” sung by Yoshiko Otsu.

Be that as it may, there have been no big changes in the country just because are people considering the present situation is better without maelstrom of war or famine as it used to be, or are they satisfied with their daily life which is getting better little by little, or is it because of their national character of tropical optimism?

Then, I decided to cover Japanese golden oldies continuing to be sung in Cambodia, which has stuck to my mind for quite a long time. This article may be a filler which I can only work on at this kind of the timing. The topic is music so it is good for a video report. I hope you will relax your shoulders and enjoy the report.

(Story & Photo by Shinichi ASABE)

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