“The idea that people could choose their own destinies fascinated me. This pirated Hollywood movie (Titanic) gave me my first small taste of freedom.”
Yeonmi Park, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom
Yeonmi Park was born in North Korea, a country notorious for its insular laws and society. The government forbids its citizens from consuming international films and media to prevent change. Park and her mother fled the country after a life of starvation when she was thirteen years old. The North Korean border with China is heavily guarded and what is beyond is unknown to those on the inside.
Yeonmi Park tells her escape story in her autobiography released on goodreads.com, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom. As they journeyed across China’s Gobi desert, they were captured by Chinese brokers and separated as they were forced into human trafficking. As a sex slave, Yeonmi Park lived her early teen years as a forced bride and prostitute while being deprived of food, and most of all, freedom and dignity. Eventually she and her mother escaped and were able to continue their journey towards South Korea.
The Reason’s blog recently interviewed Park in light of North Korea’s claims that her story does not reflect reality. The denial of details from a defensive government is expected in light of Yeonmi Park’s human rights activism. Her book was released in Fall 2015 and she recently spoke in North Korea at the UN Human Rights session. Her bravery to tell her story is her true defiance. A defiance much greater than her escape.
Park’s said on The Reason TV her initial drive to write her story was in hope to find her sister who has never returned from China. What grew from her writing is an understanding that those still imprisoned by their own citizenry must be heard. Park is speaking as a North Korean citizen and her story is not dismissable with a misdirect.