When people in America hear stories about North Korea they must conjure to mind thoughts of dystopian governments pulled straight from the pages of a George Orwell book. Sadly, the comparison is fairly apt but more horrifying for the fact that North Korea is real, and dangerous, and an oppressive force upon their own citizens. Yeonmi Park has risen to fame beacuse of YouTube in recent years thanks her part in becoming a human rights activist following her deadly escape from North Korea. As one of the most high profile North Korean defectors on the planet, many people are looking to her as a sign of hope.
A cursory glance at Yeonmi Park would reveal a startlingly beautiful woman. She has wide eyes and porcelain skin and her force is as soft as you would assume. Yet under this doll like appearance is a history of tragedy, pain, and hardship. Park unwittingly came to fame when she shared her story of escape from North Kore at the One Young World Summit and the video went viral. Now Yeonmi Park is releasing on Amazon.com her first book, “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom”. Inside of this book Park details the amazing escape and the tragic circumstances surrounding her flight from North Korea in detail — for the first time ever.
Park’s story is like so many others from North Korea. She grew up in abject poverty where starvation was the norm and a sort of paranoid fear rested over every day activities. Her parents taught her to stay quiet, avoid conversations, and never draw attention to herself. Her mother told her that the government had eyes and ears even amongst the birds and bugs. Though these precautions may sound sill to us, they were a coda to live by for Yeonmi’s family.
When her father was locked away in a hard labor camp, where he would later die of cancer, Yeonmi and her mother were forced to flee the country. They took up with human traffickers and began a journey that would break them, rebuild them, and ultimately redefine what it means to be a survivor.