Imagine growing up in a totalitarian state where torture, execution and human rights abuses are mundane. In North Korea where young Yeonmi Parks and her sister grew up, her world revolved around the state instead of the freedoms of a young girl that we take for granted here in the States. From music to fashion her life was controlled by the North Korean state. Yeonmi was born in 1993 in North Korea to a civil servant father and a military nurse mother. Life for the girls was above-average; their father was a businessman as well as a civil servant, and he made an enhanced income through trading.
When Yeonmi’s father was arrested and imprisoned for illegal trading, her life changed forever. When she saw a friend of her mother executed for selling illegal DVDs, her father formed a plan to escape the tyranny and to save his family. He sent his women ahead of him into China, and they crossed the Gobi desert alone only to be accosted, abused and raped by Chinese who hunted them for bounties from those who sought to return the women to North Korea. Yeonmi’s sister was lost and presumed dead, but she and her mother kept on and made their way into South Korea. Upon reaching Seoul they were reunited with Eunmi her older sister, and her father who was released early from prison for medical reasons.
Yeonmi had seen enough, and she began to speak out against tyranny and speak for human rights. At One Young World in 2014 she gave a speech, and the world took notice. She has gone on to be one of the youngest human rights activists in the world. “In Order to Live” is Yeonmi’s book, and it will be released at Amazon this September. In it, she tells the tale of their life and harrowing escape from North Korea, and she records the tale of their journey once outside of North Korea and the family’s run for freedom. She explains how she came to know freedom for the first time, and how she had to learn to love others. It is the story of how the events and tribulations of her life and journey let her grow into the brave young woman she is today.
The young Ms. Park has a story to tell, and she travels the world relating her tale and speaking out against the tyrannical practices in North Korea. The young woman doesn’t believe that North and South Korea will be united soon, but she delivers hope in her speeches that someday with hard work and daring the political climate may change.