Cambodians have broken a world record by folding 3,917,805 origami-style paper hearts after officials from the Guinness Book of World Records counted them up and declared the new record on April 11 at Angkor Wat.
Hun Many, a senior lawmaker and head of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), which organised the event, said Cambodia’s efforts to set a new record this year were undertaken to show the love and unity of the nation.
The UK was the record holder in 2019 with a display of 53,704 paper hearts, a project led by sports and exercise science students at the University of Kent.
British ambassador to Cambodia Dominic Williams on April 11 took to social media to congratulate Cambodia for the new record.
“As UK Amb, I should probably feel regret that we have lost our origami heart-making world crown. But Cambodia hasn’t just edged past us, it has launched into the stratosphere – nearly 4m! A special way to mark SEA Games,” he tweeted.
Many said the event was done in support of the "Beyond the Games" campaign that is focused on showing support, encouragement and appreciation to all of Cambodia's national team athletes, coaches and staff as well as everyone who has worked on preparations for the upcoming SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games hosted by Cambodia this May.
Many noted that every origami heart folded for the record was matched by a donation of 500 riel that went to charity partners who help athletes with disabilities.
He said this is the first time in history that Cambodia has the honour of hosting the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games, which are respectively in their 32nd and 12th editions.
In addition to being a gesture to support the Cambodian athletes, the folding of the paper hearts was to express pride in the Kingdom.
“On the one hand, we are doing this to support our athletes and sportspersons at both the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games, and we want to encourage and support them in their dedication and all of their preparation to win medals while representing Cambodia. But we also want to express our pride as the host country and promote our theme: Sports Live in Peace,” he added.
The record-breaking campaign recruited Cambodians to fold the origami hearts and then they were collected and counted. The hearts came from all over the country, with participants folding them aged from as young as 4 all the way up to 80.
“We display the hearts using bamboo. We don't think the hearts will be torn or broken by the wood and we intend for them to last for many days on display at Angkor Wat, during the day.
"Our volunteers are out there preparing the display and we see they are sweating and enduring the hot sun for their nation. These are great sacrifices that I could not have imagined and I sincerely admire them,” Many stated.
For Angkor Sangkran, the origami hearts will be organised together to form words or phrases around the Angkor Wat temple complex.
Back during the 2015 Angkor Sangkran holiday, Cambodia broke the record for the largest line dance, which involved over 2,000 participants. They also broke the record for the biggest rice cake, which weighed in at four tonnes.
In 2017, Cambodia broke the world record for the largest chapei dang veng, with a length of 7.70m. In 2018, Cambodia broke two more world records: Longest dragon boat or traditional racing boat in the world at 87.3m long and the longest krama traditional Cambodian scarf at 1,449 metres long.
Hun Sum, a teacher at a private school in Siem Reap, told The Post on April 11 that the school had asked each of their students to fold at least four origami hearts after instructing them on how to do so.
Sum said she folded many hearts herself and she was excited that she was able to be a part of breaking the world record for the “largest display of origami hearts”.
“I am pleased to see that there are many people who want to visit the origami heart display and that the hearts are playing a part in making the SEA Games a fun and memorable experience for the country," she added.
Na Thy, a resident of Siem Reap, said that he had helped out by folding 40 heart-shaped papers. He was happy to do it because it was fun breaking a world record for Cambodia.
“I feel great because this is the first time that Cambodia has hosted the SEA Games and the first time we have broken the world record for the largest display of origami hearts,” he said.
Vet Chandara, a resident of Kandal province, said that it was wonderful to achieve the record for the largest display of origami hearts because it allowed Cambodians to connect with each other in a spirit of unity.
"Without unity, folding millions of origami hearts like this would not have been possible," he said.