Yeonmi Park is an activist who grew up in the oppressive and impoverished nation of North Korea before her escape in 2007. As a child growing up in North Korea, Park lived with her parents and older sister in a small house near the Chinese border. Her family often went without food or ate whatever they could find such as flowers and insects. Witnessing public executions and dead bodies in the street was not an uncommon occurrence for Yeonmi. The North Korean government imposed strict regulations and ignored the poverty and hunger crisis. Finally, the Park family decided they had to escape the country and try to find a better life.
Yeonmi and her mother found a man to smuggle them across the border to China, but when they finally arrived the situation took a turn for the worse. The smuggler demanded to have sex with Yeonmi and she was only saved when her mom offered herself instead. The man then sold Yeonmi’s mother and kept Yeonmi for herself. Even though he already had a wife, he told Yeonmi he would buy her mother back and smuggle her father over the border if she became his second wife. Yeonmi agreed to this arrangement to reunite her family but she suffered years of rape and abuse at the smuggler’s hands. Unfortunately, Yeonmi’s father died from cancer before the Parks were released and moved to South Korea.
Finally, Yeonmi was free and able to live her life. She attended high school in Seoul and reunited with her sister. Yeonmi is now an activist advocating against the North Korean regime and the author of a book detailing her life story on the Reason. To find out more about her amazing journey and her book In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom, visit https://reason.com/blog/2015/11/15/yeonmi-parks-north-korean-defector-story.