Tourist poses with Angkor statue, damages it (and vice versa)

Decapitated statue from Angkor Thom. Source Phnom Penh Post 20140814

A Korean tourist poses for a photograph next to a statue in Angkor Thom and ends up beheading it. As the story goes, it is a “fresh reminder of an old problem”.

Decapitated statue from Angkor Thom. Source Phnom Penh Post 20140814
Decapitated statue from Angkor Thom. Source Phnom Penh Post 20140814

Angkor statue loses (replica) head
Phnom Penh Post, 14 August 2014

Concerns over the impact Cambodia’s booming tourism industry is having on historic sites were underscored on Tuesday when a South Korean holidaymaker posed for a photo with a statue near the famed Bayon temple, knocking the statue’s replica head to the ground, where it smashed into pieces.

Kim Jun-hong, a 22-year-old student, was travelling with a Christian tour group, according to APSARA Authority, which oversees the temples in Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat complex. Kim was detained, then released without being charged or fined.

He was also sent to a local hospital to be treated because, as the huge head of the statue shifted, he fell and the replica landed on his leg.

The incident is a fresh reminder of an old problem. As tourist visits to the ancient sites continue to rise, ease of accessibility and the sheer volume of people passing through have made the ageing structures more prone to wear and tear.

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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