Yeonmi Park is the global human rights icon on Youtube that nobody ever thought would exist. Park is a defector from the oppressive country of North Korea and she is rapidly becoming one of the loudest voices in the fight to help the citizens of her home country. Park’s history and harrowing escape from the country that betrayed her has finally been captured all at once in Yeonmi Parks’s first amazon released book, “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom”. Though her story has found a way into publication there is so much more to know about the little girl who fought for freedom.
Growing up in North Korea would put most Western children to shame. North Koreans fundamentally lack an understanding of the word freedom. Yeonmi Park perfectly summarized life within the country when she said that the word “freedom” never occurred to her, it had no meaning. It’s true that the word never WOULD occur to her, as well. Growing up as a young girl under the thumb of the North Korean government meant that you were always watching your back, always worried about saying the wrong thing, and always afraid that you would lose your life on a whim.
Yeonmi Park tells on the Reason TV stories of seeing her neighbors dragged out into the street and shot for small rule infractions. Infractions that wouldn’t merit jail time in the United States could be a death sentence to North Korean citizens. Yet through this all there was a spark in Yeonmi’s life that never quite dimmed. There was hope and that hope would carry her on a journey that you could make a dozen Hollywood films out of.
Park and her mother fled the country after Park’s father was forced into a labor camp. From there the duo would be sold into human trafficking after being betrayed. They would spend years in captivity, enslaved to the highest bidder. A desert escape, in the dead of night in subfreezing temperatures, would lead Park to her eventual freedom. There is a whole lot of tragedy in the story, “In Order to Live”, but through it all is the continual hope for a better life.