LOUNG UNG is a bestselling author, activist, and co-writer of a Netflix Original Movie directed by Angelina Jolie based on her memoir, First They Killed My Father, release in early 2017.
Loung Ung was only 5 years old when the Khmer Rouge soldiers stormed into her native city of Phnom Penh. Four years later, in one of the bloodiest episodes of the 20th century, some two million Cambodians – out of a population of seven million – had died at the hands of the infamous Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. Among the victims were both of Loung’s parents, two sisters, and 20 other relatives. In 1980, Loung, her older brother Meng and his wife, escaped by boat to Thailand, where they spent five months in a refugee camp before relocating to the United States in Vermont.
Loung’s bestselling memoir, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, (HarperCollins, 2000) is being made into a feature film by Angelina Jolie who is producing and directing the film, with an anticipated 2017 release from Netflix. The book was adapted as a screenplay by Angelina Jolie and the author. The book is widely used in high school and university curriculum. Loung’s other books include Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind, and Lulu in the Sky: A Daughter of Cambodia Finds Love, Healing and Double Happiness which are also used in high school and university curriculum.
First They Killed My Father was recipient of the 2001 Asian/Pacific American Librarians’ Association award for “Excellence in Adult Non-fiction Literature,” and has been selected for many school and university reading programs in the U.S. and internationally. It has been published in 14 countries and translated into German, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, French, Spanish, Italian, Cambodian, and Japanese. Since 1995, Loung has made over thirty trips back to Cambodia and has devoted herself to helping her native land heal from the traumas of war. She has worked as an activist to end violence against women, child soldiers, the Campaign for a Landmine Free World, and served as the spokesperson for the campaign from 1997-2005.
Loung was one of the writers of “Girl Rising, the 2013 groundbreaking documentary film directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins which tells the stories of 9 extraordinary girls from 9 countries and their stories of forced marriage, domestic slavery, sex trafficking, and gender violence and the power of education to change their worlds. Each girl’s story was written by a renowned writer from her native country, and narrated by celebrated actresses including Cate Blanchett, Priyanka Chopra, Selena Gomez, Anne Hathaway, Salma Hayek, Alicia Keys, Meryl Streep, and Kerry Washington.
In recognition of her work, The World Economic Forum selected Loung as one of the “100 Global Youth Leaders of Tomorrow.” She has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, London Sunday Times, Glamour, among others. Loung has also appeared on numerous televisions and radio shows, including CNN, “Nightline,” the “Diane Rheme Show,” “Talk of the Nation,” NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” and “Today.” In addition, she has been the subject of hour-long documentary films for German ARTE, Japanese NHK, and U.S. NECN, and has spoken at numerous forums, including Stanford University, Singapore American, Taipei American School, Mexico 1 Million Youth Summit, UN Conference on Women in Beijing, UN Conference Against Racism and Discrimination in Durban, South Africa, and Child Soldiers Summit in Kathmandu, Nepal.