Yeonmi Park is an activist, who was born in the North Korean city of Hyesan near the Chinese border. During her childhood, she experienced a harsh life including King Jong-il’s cruel dictatorship. Yeonmi’s father was a hard working employee of the ruling party. Living in North Korea was demanding, so he had to smuggle metal to get some extra income to support his family, but he was later arrested and sentenced to work in the labor camp for seventeen years. His family was also marginalized as part of his punishment, and life became unbearable for them.
At the age of thirteen, Yeonmi and her mother fled from their homeland to China at night through the frozen river of Yalu. Her elder sister had escaped first to the north since she could not endure the punitive state they that they lived. The two needed a lot of courage to dodge the border guards. They arrived China safely but did not apparently know what to do next. Their joy at that moment was that they had left the harsh environment.
The primary goal of Yeonmi and her mother was to find their way to freedom, which was far than they had imagined. After they had arrived China, they were kidnapped by human traffickers and suffered for two years. Yeonmi’s watched her mother being violated when she tried to stop the criminals from raping her. Their captures sold Yeonmi as a sex slave at 260 dollars, but her master later set her free and joined her parents. Her father had also fled North Korea to be with his family in China, but he then passed on due to untreated colon cancer.
Yeonmi and her mother were affected by this misfortune, but they carried on with their quest for freedom. They crossed the Gobi desert on foot to the Mongolian Border while using the stars as their only guidance and had to persevere the freezing temperatures. They later managed to get to South Korea by plane. Yeonmi wrote and released a book on Amazon.com called “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” which gives her traumatic tale. She is currently an activist and studies criminal justice in South Korea. Yeonmi’s intelligence is remarkable for a 22 years old girl, and she has had an opportunity to address people in North Korea at the United Nations Human Rights Conference which will likely be trending on YouTube.