Anthony Kuhn

International Correspondent Anthony Kuhn official base is Jakarta, Indonesia, where he opened NPR's first bureau in that country in 2010. From there, he has covered Southeast Asia, and the gamut of natural and human diversity stretching from Myanmar to Fiji and Vietnam to Tasmania. During 2013-2014, he is covering Beijing, China, as NPR's Louisa Lim is on fellowship.

Prior to Jakarta, Kuhn spent five years based in Beijing as a NPR foreign correspondent reporting on China and Northeast Asia. In that time Kuhn covered stories including the effect of China's resurgence on rest of the world, diplomacy and the environment, the ancient cultural traditions that still exert a profound influence in today's China, and the people's quest for social justice in a period of rapid modernization and uneven development. His beat also included such diverse topics as popular theater in Japan and the New York Philharmonic's 2008 musical diplomacy tour to Pyongyang, North Korea.

In 2004-2005, Kuhn was based in London for NPR. He covered stories ranging from the 2005 terrorist attacks on London's transport system to the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. In the spring of 2005, he reported from Iraq on the formation of the post-election interim government.

Kuhn began contributing reports to NPR from China in 1996. During that time, he also worked as an accredited freelance reporter with the Los Angeles Times, and as Beijing correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review.

In what felt to him a previous incarnation, Kuhn once lived on Manhattan's Lower East Side and walked down Broadway to work in Chinatown as a social worker. He majored in French literature at Washington University in St. Louis. He gravitated to China in the early 1980s, studying first at the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute and later at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing.

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3:34am

Mon April 30, 2012
Asia

Drama Amid Indonesia's Disappearing Mangroves

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 7:36 am

A man gathering firewood to sell cuts down mangrove trees in the coastal area of Medan city on Indonesia's Sumatra island on Jan. 31. The country, which has one-quarter of the world's mangroves, is losing them at a rate of 6 percent a year. The coastal forests play important ecological and environmental roles.
Suntanta Aditya AFP/Getty Images

The rising tide laps at the feet of local children and fishermen and submerges all but the tops of the mangrove trees of Tiwoho village in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province. At one degree of latitude north of the equator, the climate here is about the same all year round: hot, wet and perfect for the forests of salt-tolerant trees that grow along sheltered coastlines.

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3:22am

Mon April 9, 2012
Asia

Exposing Indonesia's Cold War Communist Purge

Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 11:29 am

Indonesian President Sukarno (left) surrenders his executive powers to Gen. Suharto, Feb. 22, 1967, in Jakarta. Suharto led the anti-communist purge and ruled the country until 1998.
AP

The wall of silence in Indonesia surrounding one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century is beginning to fall apart. A forthcoming report by Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights estimates that a purge of suspected communists during the mid-1960s killed between 600,000 and 1 million people.

The violence reshaped Indonesia's political landscape and affected the course of the Cold War, just as the U.S. was escalating its fight against communism in Southeast Asia.

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8:00am

Sun April 1, 2012
Asia

Myanmar Party Says Dissident Leader Wins Election

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 10:33 pm

Supporters of the opposition National League for Democracy celebrate their victory in parliamentary elections outside the party headquarters in Yangon, Myanmar, on Sunday. The results could help to consolidate support for political reforms and herald the end of foreign sanctions on the country.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

Supporters of the main opposition party in Myanmar, also known as Burma, filled the streets of the capital, celebrating Sunday a projected victory in closely watched parliamentary by-elections, as the party announced that its leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won a seat in the country's parliament for the first time.

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4:50pm

Fri March 30, 2012
Asia

Myanmar Hurriedly Prepares For An Election

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 5:33 pm

A man holds a portrait of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a rally for a candidate of her National League for Democracy party on Friday. The country is holding elections for some parliamentary seats on Sunday.
Christophe Archambault AFP/Getty Images

In Myanmar's capital, Yangon, there's an unremarkable old building that's drawing people from around the world.

It's the headquarters of the National League for Democracy, the political opposition party headed by pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. This weekend, she is running for elective office for the first time, and the humble house has become the focus of even greater attention.

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3:27am

Fri March 30, 2012
Asia

Myanmar's Election Seen As A Test Of Reforms

Myanmar opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to supporters on Saturday. Voting in parliamentary elections this Sunday is considered a test of the political reforms that Myanmar's rulers have introduced over the past year.
Khin Maung Win AP

Myanmar has an election this Sunday where only a small fraction of the parliamentary seats are at stakes — and yet the ballot is commanding international attention.

The closely watched election is seen as a test of whether the country's rulers are sincere about reforms they have been introducing over the past year.

If the vote is seen as free and fair, it could prompt Western governments to begin lifting sanctions imposed during the half-century of military rule in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

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2:39pm

Mon March 12, 2012
Rebuilding Japan

Rethinking, Not Just Rebuilding, Japan's Northeast

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 9:56 pm

Demolished ships lie strewn about near the fishing port of Minamisanriku town, in Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan, Feb. 23, 2012. The local fisherman's union says last year's tsunami wiped out 90 percent of local fishing boats.
Yuriko Makao Reuters /Landov

With a fierce yell and a resounding thwack, 13-year-old Japanese student Nanami Usui brings her bamboo sword down on her opponent.

By practicing Kendo, or Japanese swordsmanship, Usui is one of several students in the town of Minamisanriku who are rebuilding their confidence after last year's tsunami washed away their homes and shattered their hometown in the country's northeast.

Usui says she dreams of being a police officer, but she doesn't know yet where she wants to live and work.

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8:00am

Sun March 11, 2012
Asia

Japanese Village Marks Disasters' Anniversary

Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 9:49 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Japan is remembering the massive earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people and triggered a nuclear crisis a year ago today. At 2:46 P.M. local time, trains stopped, sirens blared, and people across Japan bowed their heads in silence. But one year on, rebuilding has not even begun on much of the country's devastated northeast coast.

And as NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports, the fishing town of Minamisanriku is still too early for most of the wounds to heal.

(SOUNDBITE OF A BELL AND A CHANTING BUDDHIST MONK)

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12:01am

Fri March 9, 2012
Rebuilding Japan

A Year On, Japan Is Still Looking For The Road Ahead

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 11:09 am

Members of the media, wearing protective suits and masks, visit the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power station during a press tour, in northeastern Japan's Fukushima prefecture, Feb. 28. Japan is marking the first anniversary of the March 11 tsunami and earthquake, which triggered the worst nuclear accident in the country's history.
Kimimasa Mayama AP

A year after suffering the worst nuclear accident in its history, Japan is still struggling to understand what happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant in the country's northeast.

Last week, an independent commission released a report arguing that Japan narrowly averted what could have been a far deadlier disaster and that the government withheld this information from the public.

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3:58pm

Tue February 28, 2012
Asia

How Far Will The Changes In Myanmar Go?

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 3:00 pm

Supporters greet Myanmar's pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, atop her vehicle, as she arrives at an election campaign rally in Thongwa village, Myanmar, on Sunday. The country's new government is holding legislative elections on April 1.
Altaf Qadri AP

Once an international pariah ruled by a repressive military regime, Myanmar has in recent months become one of Southeast Asia's hottest destinations.

Last year, a nominally civilian government took over and began political changes in the country also known as Burma. Now, foreign investors and tourists are flooding in, and foreign governments are considering lifting their sanctions.

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4:00am

Thu February 16, 2012
NPR Story

Thailand Squeezed In Iran-Israel Shadow War

Originally published on Sun February 19, 2012 8:47 am

Thailand says three Iranians arrested this week were planning to assassinate Israeli diplomats in Bangkok. The bombs went off on Tuesday, wounding one Iranian and four Thai residents. Since then, Israel and Iran have been trading accusations of waging shadow warfare against each other through a series of recent attempted assassinations in several countries.

12:01am

Wed February 15, 2012
Asia

Opposition Leader Bets On Myanmar Reforms

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 1:31 pm

Ethnic Karen women welcome opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to War Thein Kha village. The area is in Kawhmu Township, which Suu Kyi is campaigning to represent in Myanmar's parliament.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

The military-backed government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has surprised many skeptics with the pace of its political reforms — releasing political prisoners, easing censorship and making peace with ethnic insurgents.

But none of these reforms have won it as much praise as its efforts to mend fences with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. After nearly two decades under house arrest, Suu Kyi is now aiming to work for democracy within the system by running for a seat in parliament.

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12:01am

Mon January 30, 2012
Religion

'Obedient Wives Club' Irks Some Muslims In Malaysia

Last June, some employees at the Global Ikhwan Café, in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, established the Obedient Wives Club. Global Ikhwan (Ikhwan is Arabic for "brotherhood") owns businesses in several countries.

Since then, it has been castigated for what Muslim and non-Muslim critics call a "medieval and oppressive interpretation of Islam."

The controversy surprised club organizer Dr. Azlina Jamaluddin. She says that her group is merely suggesting a way to deal with social problems in Malaysia such as a rising divorce rate.

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3:43pm

Thu January 19, 2012
Asia

In Malaysia, Student Challenges Limits On Politics

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 10:16 pm

Student activist Adam Adli addresses protesters outside Malaysia's high court in Kuala Lumpur on Jan. 9. The crowd was awaiting a verdict in the trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was acquitted on charges of sodomy shortly afterward. Adam is leading the fight to abolish a decades-old law that bans college students from joining or speaking in support of political parties.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

In Asia's modern history, college students have played a leading role in pushing for political reform and challenging authoritarian regimes.

Adam Adli is one of these student activists, and is becoming a prominent political figure as he fights to abolish a 40-year-old law that bars college students in the prosperous Southeast Asian country from participating in politics.

The 22-year-old was among the crowd of thousands chanting "reformasi," or reform, outside Malaysia's high court in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Jan. 9.

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3:29pm

Wed January 4, 2012
Asia

Indonesian Economy Booms, Its Infrastructure Groans

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 10:40 pm

Motorists inch their way in heavy traffic in Palembang, Sumatra, in Indonesia. The nation's rapid growth is overwhelming its weak public infrastructure.
Ted Aljibe AFP/Getty Images

Indonesia has one of the world's fastest growing economies, and it's already the largest in Southeast Asia. This growth and stability recently earned it a major credit upgrade at a time when Western countries are fearful of downgrades.

Yet this vibrant economy has an Achilles' heel: its crumbling, overwhelmed infrastructure.

The problem becomes painfully apparent this time every year, when the rainy season fills commuters with dread in the capital, Jakarta, and many other cities.

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5:13am

Wed December 28, 2011
Asia

North Korea's Power Transfer Moving Smoothly

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:10 am

This photo provided by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows Kim Jong Un, center, with his hand on the limousine bearing his father Kim Jong Il's body during the funeral procession in Pyongyang.
Korean Central News Agency

Capping more than a week of public mourning, North Korea staged a dramatic state funeral for its late leader, Kim Jong Il. Leading the ceremonies was Kim's third son and apparent successor, Kim Jong Un.

North Korean media reports portray the younger Kim, who is reportedly in his late 20s, in full control of the impoverished, nuclear-armed country. But while consolidating his political power may be easy, establishing his legitimacy will be tougher.

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4:00am

Tue December 27, 2011
NPR Story

Can North Korea Afford Kim Jong Il's Funeral?

As North Korea prepares for the funeral of leader Kim Jong Il, attention is being focused on the country his son, heir apparent Kim Jong Un, will inherit. Like almost everything to do with North Korea, the picture of how the country's economy works is cloudy.

10:22pm

Sun December 18, 2011
Remembrances

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il, 69, Has Died

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:11 am

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during a visit to Siberia in August. He died Saturday at age 69, according to state-run North Korean television.
Dmitry Astakhov AFP/Getty Images

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il has died of apparent heart failure. He was 69.

In a "special broadcast" Monday from the North Korean capital, state media said Kim died on a train due to a "great mental and physical strain" during a "high-intensity field inspection" Saturday. It said an autopsy done Sunday "fully confirmed" the diagnosis.

Kim Jong Il wanted his successor to be his son, Kim Jong Un, who is believed to be in his late 20s. But there was no immediate word on a new leader in North Korea.

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12:01am

Tue November 22, 2011
Asia

In Cambodia, Aging Khmer Rouge Leaders Go On Trial

Originally published on Tue November 22, 2011 1:40 pm

A Cambodian woman looks at portraits of Khmer Rouge victims at the Tuol Sleng genocide museum in the capital Phnom Penh on Nov. 17. Three senior Khmer Rouge leaders are on trial in what may be the last major legal case against the group's leaders.
Tang Chhin Sothy AFP/Getty Images

In Cambodia this week, three elderly men are sitting in a courtroom, accused of atrocities that took place in the 1970s.

The three former leaders of the radical Khmer Rouge are on trial for their role in a regime that exterminated more than 2 million people — or roughly a quarter of the country's population.

The Khmer Rouge was forced from power more than three decades ago, its former leaders are growing old, and this may be the final trial held by the U.N.-backed tribunal.

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4:00am

Fri November 18, 2011
NPR Story

Obama In Bali For East Asia Summit

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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3:43pm

Wed November 16, 2011
Asia

Cambodia Tries To Curb Foreign Men Seeking Wives

On any given night, foreign visitors throng the many bars, restaurants and hotels overlooking the Tonle Sap River on bustling Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. Among them, foreign men accompanied with Cambodian women are a common sight.

Just up the street is Rory's Pub, where a Celtic cross and a Bushmills whiskey sign hang on the wall.

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3:48am

Wed November 16, 2011
Asia

In Indonesia, Anger Against Mining Giant Grows

Originally published on Wed November 16, 2011 8:22 pm

Police clash with workers of American mining company Freeport-McMoRan during a protest in Timika, Papua province, Indonesia, Oct. 10. Indonesian security forces fired on striking workers at Freeport-McMoRan's Grasberg gold and copper mine after a protest turned deadly.
Anonymous AP

A foreign mining company, protected by hundreds of soldiers, extracts precious resources from a remote tropical forest. The mining enrages indigenous tribes, who resist.

It may sound like a movie script, but it is in fact the story of the world's largest gold mine, located high in the mountains of Indonesia's Papua province and owned by Freeport-McMoRan, an American mining conglomerate.

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1:49pm

Mon October 31, 2011
Asia

Dream Sparks Events That Reunite Cambodian Family

Originally published on Mon October 31, 2011 3:27 pm

In 1975, the Khmer Rouge told the family of Peou Nam that he had been executed. After 36 years of separation, hardship and an unusual series of events, the family was reunited in June this year. Son Phyrun visits his father at his farmhouse in southern Cambodia's Kampot province.

Anthony Kuhn NPR

On a recent day, Peou Phyrun steers his motorcycle down the rutted dirt road to his father's home in southern Cambodia's Kampot province. His father, 85-year-old Peou Nam, lives in a traditional Khmer farmhouse on stilts, where sugar palms tower over verdant rice paddies like giant dandelions on a lawn.

Like so many other families in Cambodia, theirs was torn apart by the Khmer Rouge. But unlike so many others, they were able to find each other, 36 years later, through a most unusual sequence of events.

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11:01am

Fri October 14, 2011
Asia

Judge Resigns, Casting Doubt Over Khmer Rouge Trials

Originally published on Tue October 18, 2011 12:05 pm

In this undated photo, a man cleans a skull near a mass grave at the Choeung Ek camp outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia — the best known of the killing fields run by the Khmer Rouge in the middle and late 1970s. Now, Cambodians are skeptical that a U.N.-backed tribunal will be able to deliver justice in the case of four remaining high-level Khmer Rouge officials.

Jeff Widener AP

Long running and frequently delayed, the legal cases against former leaders of the Khmer Rouge are now in danger of being terminated before many of their victims get the justice they've sought.

A German judge resigned this month from the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal. The judge, Siegfried Blunk, felt Cambodian officials were obstructing efforts to investigate the crimes of the Khmer Rouge, which is believed to have killed as many as 2 million of its own citizens between 1975 and 1979.

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1:09pm

Tue September 27, 2011
Asia

Widows Win Legal Victory In Indonesia Massacre Case

Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 4:09 pm

Cawi Binti Baisan, 84, squats beside the grave of her first husband Bitol, a farmer who was executed by Dutch soldiers in 1947. She is one of seven remaining widows of the more than 400 estimated massacre victims. A Dutch court recently ruled that the Dutch government must compensate the widows for their losses.

Yosef Riadi for NPR

In Indonesia, many people are celebrating what they see as a long-delayed victory for justice and human rights. Representatives of a village in West Java that was the site of a massacre by Dutch colonial soldiers 64 years ago sued the Dutch government and won.

The Dutch court ruled that the government must now compensate the victims' seven surviving widows. One of them is 84-year-old Cawi Binti Baisan.

She remembers her husband Bitol waking her up before dawn one morning in 1947. Bitol, who went by only one name, had just come in from the rice paddies, carrying his plow.

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4:30pm

Mon September 26, 2011
The Salt

Lemongrass Brings Essential Spark To Southeast Asian Cooking

Originally published on Mon September 26, 2011 7:06 pm

A freshly tossed Thai lemongrass salad is served on betel leaves at Naj, a Bangkok restaurant
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Imagine you're trekking through the concrete jungle of just about any Southeast Asian city. The first thing you notice is the smorgasbord of smells, some enticing, others downright rank. Amid the urban odor-rama, one sweet herbal fragrance stands out. It's lemongrass. And it's just about everywhere.

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6:13am

Sun August 21, 2011
Asia

A Battle Is Under Way For The Forests Of Borneo

A dirt road passes through remote Sekendal village in Indonesia's western Borneo. Some 60 percent of the island's forests have been cut down, and only 8 percent of the islands virgin forests remain, mostly in national parks.
Andrew Limbong for NPR

A spry 80-year-old cruises through the thick vegetation of western Borneo, or western Kalimantan, as it's known to Indonesians. Dressed in faded pinstripe slacks and a polo shirt, Layan Lujum carries a large knife in his hand. The chief of the island's Sekendal village is making his morning rounds.

Layan is a member of an indigenous ethnic group called the Dayaks, who once had a reputation as fierce headhunters. As on most mornings, his first job on a recent day is to tend to his rubber trees.

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4:14pm

Wed August 10, 2011
Asia

Indonesian Family Pays Price For Exposing Cheating

Siami, a curtain-maker who goes by one name, is mother of Alifah Achmad Maulana. Neighbors hounded the family out of their village outside Surabaya, Indonesia, after she complained about cheating on the national high school entrance exam at the village public school.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

At the end of the summer exam season in Indonesia, education officials announced extraordinary results: a 99 percent pass rate for national high school entrance exams.

But among many Indonesians, the claim aroused scorn and suspicion of the country's education system, thanks in part to a young man named Alifah Achmad Maulana.

Alifah rides home from school most days on the back of his dad's motorbike. The pair tool past banana trees and hanging laundry to their small house in Gadel village outside Indonesia's second-largest city, Surabaya.

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