Photo by: Roth Meas and Photo Supplied
Chem Vuth Sovin, above, co-founder of Khmer Celebrity Community, and a screenshot of khmercelb.org.
The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 08 September 2009 15:00 Roth Meas
A collective of enterprising Cambodian new-media disciples has created a beautifully produced, regularly updated online magazine devoted to the emerging scene of Khmer celebrities
RUN a Web search on "Khmerceleb" and a modern, well-designed Web site is first up in the results.
This Web page, with its plethora of features and photographs concerned with Cambodian celebrities, belongs to the Khmer Celebrity Community (KCC), which was founded by five people: Chem Vuth Sovin and Alex T, both of whom live in Cambodia; Rattanak Tee Leang and Veasna Pors, who live in the US; and New Zealand resident Akong.
Sovin and Alex T got to know their three colleagues by chance, when they chatted on the Internet. As a group, they began building their relationship and sharing personal interests.
They soon landed on common ground and decided to found the KCC, before launching Khmer Celeb, an online magazine, on March 8.
Chem Vuth Sovin explains the reasons behind creating the online magazine were that "we all love art and entertainment, and many people aren't aware of how this scene is developing in Cambodia. We want to support this, so we created a Web page to showcase this newfound confidence and creative upsurge."
Sovin is a former Cambodian student who studied law in Lyon, France, for almost three years. He is also a photographer and owns a shop called SPK Plus Digital Photography. Yet in order to create the Web site, he needed the help of his friend in New Zealand.
Each month on Khmer Celeb, the homepage is designated as a shrine to a different celebrity. That celebrity is the site's "artist of the month" and takes part in a detailed interview, as well as having a fact file composed about him or her, and a number of photographs added.
Khmer Celeb strives to include celebrities from a variety of disciplines, from film stars and singers to painters and boxers.
Sovin is usually the point of contact for the celebrities featured on the site and often arranges the interviews and photo shoots himself.
The staff of KCC generally communicate with one another by Internet or phone because of their great geographical diversity. After all, they do live across three different continents.
The process usually flows as thus: Sovin gathers the information and photos in Cambodia and sends them to his colleagues in the US for editing.
After editing, the articles will be sent on again to Akong, the webmaster, who lives in New Zealand and controls the whole site, He publishes the articles on khmerceleb.org.
However, Khmer Celeb is always keen to diversify its media content and has begun to show video clips about stars, clothes and hairstyles. This is where Alex T comes in, the production director of the site, who produces all of the video content.
Yet there is more, as Sovin explains.
"Khmer Celeb also works as a social networking site, much like Facebook or Myspace, where people can join and then create their own personal page, post their photos or comments and chat with friends," he says.
New sections such as lifestyle, Cambodian food, and tourism are making sure the Web site continues to diversify, and there are other topics in the pipeline which are not yet live.
According to Sovin, the main target audience of Khmer Celeb is people who live outside of Cambodia, including foreigners.
The KCC is certain that many Cambodians overseas regularly access the Internet; it's somewhat odd that the site is more likely to reach those people, rather than residents of its country of origin.
However, Sovin has seen a rising number of Cambodian students using the Internet, and some are already regular visitors to Khmer Celeb. The group hopes to take advantage of this soon and plans to target Cambodian teenagers at the end of this year.
Thus far, the founders have run the group using their own money.
"When we first created the online mag, we were only interested in exposing Khmer entertainment," Sovin explained.
"We never even thought about money, but now, after half a year, some companies are beginning to ask us to advertise their products."
Sovin plans to extend his staff to 14 to help make Khmer Celeb bigger and better than ever.