A Husband’s Week Inside Veasna’s Doomsday Farm, and a Wife’s Efforts to Get Him to Leave

3 min read
A photo posted by Khem Veasna on his Facebook on September 4, 2022.
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Seng Hour has been listening to politician Khem Veasna’s sermons for three years. So last month, when Veasna predicted a worldwide flood, he left his job in South Korea to escape the disaster to join Veasna at his farm in Siem Reap.

Now he is back home in Poipet, hoping he will be able to get his job back after the Pchum Ben holidays as he has debts waiting to be paid.

Hour said on Friday that nothing abnormal happened at “uncle’s” farm — even adding that he still believed in the prophecy of devastating floods that will end the world.

But he had no choice but to leave because of his personal issue of debt, Hour said.

“I still believe it, but if I keep on believing there’s no one to pay for my debt. We’re not sure of the exact day, and the bank keeps asking for payments,” said Hour, only disclosing that he had “quite a lot” of debt.

On the doomsday farm, there were 50 bathrooms, three meals a day prepared by chefs and daily sermons by “uncle.” It was all “great” — except for the mess caused by non-followers who crashed the party, Hour said.

“The non-understanding people were afraid of the flood and brought their family there with them,” Hour said. There was an overload because of those “outsiders” coming to the farm, forcing workers like him from South Korea to have to build their own shelters.

“In fact, uncle had already prepared living spaces and supplies, but when the outsiders came, we who came from Korea had no place to live,” Hour said. “Uncle only made his announcement for the ones who understand to come.”

There were only 1,000-2,000 people who truly understood, Hour said.

Not all workers who came back to Cambodia from South Korea would be returning — some had expired visas, and they would just do business or sell their land, he said.

“For me, I told the employer that I was coming here to visit for a few weeks,” leaving the door open for him to go back to his job.

On Wednesday last week, Hour left Veasna’s farmstead. “I came out without telling anyone,” he said. His debt was a big reason, but so was disruptions to the internet and electricity, which made it hard to live, he said.

Seng Hour’s wife, Mey, did not have such a rosy view of the doomsday gathering. She has continued to live in Cambodia, and did not join her husband at the farm. She would not give her full name due to concerns that the debt collector would come after her as she would remain in the country.

Mey went to pick Hour up at the farm near Phnom Kulen mountain on August 31, and her husband seemed unwell, she said.

“He came out with symptoms of illness,” she said, noting both physical symptoms as well as apparent hallucinations.

“He’s dreaming that there’s flooding and airplanes falling down,” Mey said.

She said her husband had worked in South Korea for only five months and thinks he will probably be able to go back to his job.

“Luckily he still listens to me, he’s still somehow afraid of his wife. I told him to ask permission to visit here for two weeks,” Mey said.

At the farm, Hour had to stand guard from around 2 a.m. till daybreak, according to his wife.

She wanted to help him cut ties with Veasna’s League for Democracy Party, and Hour had told her that if nothing really happened, he would leave the party, she said.

Hour, however, said on Friday that it was too soon to tell if Veasna was wrong. “Now there’s nothing happening yet, so I will just go and make some money first.”

As the interview came to a close, Hour said he had doubts about the work of a female reporter. “If you write, please do write accurately — female journalists mostly write inaccurately. We say this and they write that.”

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