So, it has been more than three years now that I have either been actively planning or making this series! Time flies, and it certainly flies fast during a pandemic.
But three years is a long time, I am so happy that I committed to making this series and I am so proud to have received such positive reactions. Particularly from those Cambodians for whom the show has provided a real access point into their own country’s history, but also from people that have spent a lot of time there or those who only had a vague interest but have found out so much more via the show. I know I’ve made these predictions before but I presume there is about two more years to go, not exactly sure, it used to be one episode would cover a few hundred years… then a few decades… now it is down to about one to five so we are starting to crawl here. But at least we are at the point that most people would presume a podcast about the Khmer Rouge would begin… roughly sometime after the second world war (thanks for hanging in there OG listeners!)
As we approach the 14th episode, detailing the end of the First Indochina War and Geneva and Sihanouk’s rise to prominence, I have been researching and reading and have had the time to check the show and its numbers and engagement obsessively (regrettably) and investigate what others might be doing in the same sphere. I can still confidently say that this is the only series that has taken a long view of Cambodian history and the Khmer Rouge, as well as dealing with these topics exclusively. There are other, far more popular shows that have had a few episodes dealing with the subject of the Khmer Rouge or Angkor (and nothing in between), but not (if I may say so) to the same level of depth.
But the ‘Khmer Rouge Podcasts’ or ‘Cambodian Genocide Podcasts’ that I listened to seemed to take very shallow views of the period and the regime, many with a kind of semi-light heartedness that I did not particularly enjoy. As well as falling deep into the horror side of things, without spending too much time on the history side of things. With the popularity of ‘true crime’ podcasts, particularly the format where one person reads information and others react, I think this has become more prevalent. I have no doubt that there are audiences which align to that kind of content, with the ‘edge’ of the discussion (and some of the historical accuracy) blunted by the need to include jokes or oversimplification for the sake of expediency… but I am happy with the angle that this series has taken. Slow and steady, heavy on the detail and research. What will end up being close to the length of a book, perhaps more than 30 hours.
This all has a bit of a smelly tone to it though, as I’m sure (particularly for the earlier episodes) that someone could take me to task for including a Simpson’s quote or skipping over some important Angkorean monarch or missing some key bit of Soviet Diplomacy. So, I won’t spend too much time patting myself on the back. Apples and oranges, different people have different tastes.