Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
Different studies have given differing populations for the Kim Mun people group in Laos. Laurent Chazee, in 1995, listed 4,500 Kim Mun people inhabiting 25 villages in northern Laos. Twenty-one villages are located in Luang Namtha Province, including 8 in Namo District, which could be considered the central point of the Kim Mun in Laos. Three villages are in Oudomxai Province and just one in Bokeo Province. The 1996 Ethnologue, however, cites a different 1995 study which showed there to be 3,600 Kim Mun in 770 families. In addition, there are 4,000 people in Phongsali Province who call themselves Lanten. They speak a different dialect and wear different dress from the Kim Mun. Because of their ethno-linguistic differences we have profiled this latter group under the name Lanten, although there is little doubt they were once part of the same group.
The vast majority of Kim Mun (more than 250,000) live in China. This figure includes approximately 50,000 people living on Hainan Island who are officially included as part of the Miao nationality in China, but who speak the same language as the Kim Mun. The Kim Mun are also located in northern Myanmar, Vietnam; and Switzerland and the United States, where they have migrated as refugees in recent decades.
In Laos the Kim Mun population may be decreasing because of disease and rampant drug addiction.
Research into the Kim Mun is often clouded because of the many names they are known by. In Laos they are often called Lao Huay or Lanten. The name Lanten is a Chinese term meaning 'those who make dye'. Their autonym, Kim Mun, means 'the people in the forest'. To complicate matters even further, the Chinese often call them Shanzi Yao, meaning 'Mountaineer Yao'.
The Kim Mun are one of only a few ethnic groups in Laos who follow Daoism. Because of the influence of Daoism texts, the Kim Mun read the Chinese script best. Ancestor worship is also an integral part of their beliefs.
There are believed to be between 85 and 100 Kim Mun Christians in Laos, living in a few villages.
* Pray they will turn from Daoism and ancestor worship to follow Christ.
* Pray God's Word would soon be made available in the Kim Mun language.
* Ask God to strengthen, bless and multiply the small number of believers among the Kim Mun in Laos.