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The Khmer Proletariat, Notes Of The Second Riel: 5 Riel (Cambodia, 1979)-Article

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

This Cambodian banknote represents the 5th denomination of the Second Riel (Seventh Issue, Series 1979). The Second Riel was introduced 1 April 1980, during the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia. Which was in response to the Cambodian (Democratic Kampuchea) invasion of Vietnam. Beginning the drawn out Cambodian–Vietnamese War (1978-1989).

The Vietnamese successful counter-attack lead to the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge government. And the establishment of the People's Republic of Kampuchea (1979-1989). Notably the Second Riel was technically preceded by the Democratic Kampuchea Riel (Series 1975). Which were withdrawn and destroyed, due to the Khmer Rouge abolishing the concept of currency.


The observe features Khmer citizens of various trades, backed by factories. As a Marxism–Leninism, the People's Republic of Kampuchea's politics centered on labor solidarity. From left to right these figures are the intellectual, farmer, industrial worker, and the soldier. Thus representing all major aspects of the Khmer citizen-worker.

Returning to the observe, nearly all text is printed Khmer script and numerals. The header reads "សាធារណរដ្ឋប្រជាមានិតកម្ពុជា", translated as the "PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KAMPUCHEA". At the center right is additional text it reads, "ប្រាំរៀល" or "Five Riels". While the footer lists the note's "1979" print date.

To the upper-right of the note's illustration is the State Emblem of the People's Republic of Kampuchea. A short distance below this State Emblem, is the note's serial numbers. It reads "កគ 5424067", roughly translation to "KK 5424067". Notably the Khmer alphabet does not directly translate to Latin/standard script.

Moving toward the ornate border, we can see a style heavily based on Khmer stonework. Along the notes corners are Khmer numerals (๕), they simply reaffirm the note's "5" Riels value. Although the upper-left and lower-right corners add the text "ប្រាំរៀល" (Five Riels). Further reinforcing the note's already stated value.


The reverse depicts the Independence Monument, in Phnom Pehn. This monument on the intersection of Norodom and Sihanouk Boulevard. The monument was built in 1958, to memorialize Cambodia's independence from France in 1953. It was designed by architect Vann Molyvann (1926-2017), under the instruction of former King Norodom Sihanouk (1922-2012).

Unlike the observe the reverse frame features both Khmer (๕) and standard numerals (5). The upper-corner lists the note's "5" Riels value numerically. While the lower-center Khmer script (ប្រាំរៀល), repeats the same value. The lower corners simply reinforce this value, although the lower-right is printed in standard script/numerals.

Second Riel (Series 1979) Gallery

(Gallery will be updated, as new banknotes are databased)


Additional Notes

  • This note's dimensions are 132 x 67 mm or 5.20 x 2.64 in, larger than a US Dollar.

  • The preferably method to preserve note are large side-opening sleeves, cut to size.

  • The Second Riel uses the ISO code is KHR and "" as its symbol.

  • The Second Riel was sub-divided into 10 Kak/100 Sen, before rising inflation made these denominations obsolete.

  • Since the 1990s the US Dollar has been used as an accepted currency, in Cambodian retail.

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