As a child, Leth Oun enjoyed a happy life in Battambang City in western Cambodia. His family was poor but his father, a lieutenant in the Lon Nol government, ensured he went to school and that there was food on the table. Then, in April 1975, the Khmer Rouge marched into town.
As a young boy, Leth Oun’s life was turned upside down. His father went missing, never to be seen again, while he was forced to sow rice in the “killing fields” where his mother concocted false names and hid her family’s background in order to survive.
The chaos that accompanied the 1979 Vietnamese invasion meant little peace and to make ends meet, Leth Oun and his mother would make a treacherous journey from Battambang to the Thai border where they bought food to be resold back home for a small profit.