South Korean Firm Faces Off With Tycoon Kok An Over Land

A group of South Koreans and Cambodians employed by a Korean developer faced off with an excavator and a bulldozer clearing land for a wealthy local businessman in a dispute over 6 hectares of land in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district on Wednesday.

Staff of World City Co. Ltd., the developer of Camko City, held up signs with slogans such as “stop raping our legally owned land” and “maintain your status quo as oknha not criminal” as the machinery destroyed trees on a tract of land on which tycoon Kok An plans to build a road to his Phnom Penh Crown Football Club (PPCFC) stadium.

“We are foreign investors, we bought this land legally and it was registered with the Cambodian government’s cadastral department,” said Seung Hyung-lee, senior vice president for World City. “The oknha [Mr. An] sold the land to us but he has changed his mind.”

In 2005, the Korean developer bought from Mr. An 50 hectares of land abutting the PPCFC stadium about 3 km from Camko City, according to both sides. Mr. Seung said the disputed 6 hectares is inside the 50 hectares, while Rithy Samnang, the son-in-law and representative of Mr. An, claimed that the Koreans are trying to take an extra 6 hectares.

After being intercepted four times Wednesday, Mr. An’s machinery finally moved across a canal that separates PPCFC land from World City land and began to clear it, according to both sides.

Tuol Sangke commune chief Soy Kosal, who arrived in time to defuse an escalating situation, said that Mr. An’s employees were simply looking to release flood water, and that the land was not properly demarcated.

“The side of Camko City misunderstood,” he said. “I wish to state that the oknha’s side was digging the canal deeper.”

However, Mr. Samnang himself said the land was being cleared to build a road from Angkor Boulevard to the football stadium.

“The land belongs to me. I have a title for the land. I cleared the land to build a road,” he said.

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