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Heaven to Hell and Back: Forgiving a Killer

Fascinating People Fascinating Places

Daniel Mainwaring

Documentary, Society & Culture:documentary, Society & Culture, History

51.1K Ratings

🗓️ 26 August 2023

⏱️ 30 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


The parents of Rose Kuhn as well as her older brother miraculously survived the killing fields of Cambodia and started a new life in America. But joy turned to despair when Rose’s father was murdered by a teen gang member -- also a refugee from Cambodia. In this remarkable and deeply moving interview, Rose discusses her family’s experiences in Cambodia. Her life in the US, and how she came to embrace forgiveness and lobbied the state of California to free her father’s killer. Music: Pixabay

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Could you forgive a stranger who had murdered one of your loved ones?


Thankfully for most of us is a question that never passes the hypothetical stage.


Though I suspect few of us would answer in the affirmative.


In this episode I speak with Rose Kuhn, a young woman from California, for whom sadly this question has been asked and answered.


But her response will likely surprise and certainly inspire you.


If you listen to the last episode, you recall that it involved the harrowing story


of Sarah Paulin, a survivor of the Cambodian genocide who miraculously


escaped the United States. This story begins at the same point in time as Rose's family were caught up for similar reasons in the same conflict.


My mom and dad's life in Cambodia, they live in the countryside in Batla Bong, Cambodia, and they weren't like a rich family.


They were more considered as the poor class, but my mother sold food, like a vendor with my grandma and her sister, and my dad was a performer.


He did comedy, he was a speaker. He was also a low-level soldier too. So nothing like a major big but they just lived in the countryside. They were poor. They lived happily like not not happily, but they lived day to day getting by. And when the Camar Rouge came on April 1975, is when they told the Cammer Rouge told everybody to lead the city.


So they didn't really know what was going on.


My parents, they just followed everybody because everybody was all walking in one direction.


So they went ahead and walked in this one direction


and they went on this train and this train led them to the countryside


and they still didn't have no idea they thought that there was rumors or saying that the war was over or they're having a new president they're cleaning out the cities so they had no idea. So they just went out of the belongings that they can take with them or some pictures just whatever you can hold with you. They were there, but when they got to the countryside they separated the men from the woman.


My parents I think they got there a little late to where you go check in and so they're asking oh what do you do my dad told them the truth say oh I'm a soldier what class what this and that but before he even went on this like cargo kind of like you know how the UN put a bunch of people in the back but before that my mom said that they gathered tons of soldiers and army already my mom said it was like like a football sides of people of soldiers in one area where they were


shot off, they were killed, they were tortured, they just, all the soldiers, they all got got executed when you're there like if you were a


teacher you wear glasses you look smart you're dead you had any kind of education


you were dead a lot of your singers or performer, like they didn't want any influence going into this regime, but they had no idea what was coming. So my father got very lucky because he was a low-level


soldier and he was like towards the end of it. So they kept him. So they already


split my mom from my dad already. They also split my grandma for my mom,


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