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Cambodian show reunites families broken by Khmer Rouge

  |   July 16, 2013 at 2:43 PM
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, July 16 (UPI) -- A reality television show in Cambodia called "It's Not a Dream" is reuniting relatives separated during the Khmer Rouge's brutal genocide, producers said.

The show's creators said the serious issue of the four-year Khmer Rouge reign of terror has not been much of an open discussion in Cambodian society. The topic was not a part of the government's school curriculum until 2009 and though the Khmer Rouge fell 35 years ago, many families remain separated with no knowledge of whether relatives are alive or dead.

Still, a reality television show dealing with such weighty issues is jarring, The Guardian said Tuesday.

In a recent episode, Khoem Sarom, who lived near Phnom Penh before the Khmer Rouge forced several of his relatives to move, was on live television sharing his emotional wish to be reunited with his sister's daughter -- his only niece.

At the same time a woman, Seak Mala, waits back stage and watches as her prerecorded video describing her life under the Khmer Rouge plays and she describes losing her mother, father grandfather and uncle.

At the show's climax, saccharine music blares and Sarom and Mala are told they are the uncle and niece respectively that they've sought to find for all those years.

The two tearfully embrace and the entire moment is broadcast live to the nation.

Still, the show wasn't able to deliver a true happy ending. Cameras close in on Mala as she asks her uncle about her mother.

"I don't know if she's alive or if she's dead," he said.

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Topics: Khmer Rouge
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