“There is oppression and tragedy,” Yeonmi Park said. “I know the truth about North Korea and our voices cannot be silenced.”
Yeonmi Park and her mother defected from North Korea. Basic needs such as access to clean, running water, electricity, and freedom of expression were virtually non-existent in North Korea, under the rule of Kim Jong-un. The Kim regime always kept the people of North Korea alienated from the rest of the world.
North Korea remains elusive to the world. It was dubbed the Hermit Country due to the regime’s efforts to control the flow of information and goods in and out of North Korea.
Yeonmi was nine years old when she witnessed the execution death of a friend’s mother. The woman had only watched a James Bond film. Yeonmi had watched many contraband films before that time. The smuggling of outsider films, electronic devices, and other valuables became a means of survival for the starving people of North Korea. When Yeonmi’s father was arrested and imprisoned for smuggling metals, her family was deprived of most of their income. They faced the probability of starving to death.
With the aid of human smugglers, Yeonmi, and her mother fled to China. They were enslaved for more than two years before they were freed. The Parks were in China illegally and knew they would be deported if they were caught. If they were deported to North Korea, they would be executed upon return. Yeonmi and her mother attempted to reach South Korea by passing through Mongolia. They were detained by the border patrol, but fate stepped in. North Korea would not win.
After they had been detained for more than two months, Yeonmi and her mother were sent to North Korea. They struggled to adjust, following their ordeal but slowly adapted to their new lives.
Mrs. Park and Yeonmi each worked a series of jobs in shops throughout Seoul. Yeonmi enrolled in the criminal justice program at a local university. She began to understand compassion and started to speak out against North Korea.
“There are so many things here that we did not have in North Korea,” Yeonmi said on the Reason. “So many things people here throw away that I would have loved in North Korea. This life is a paradise. So many die for this in North Korea, and we must not allow it to go on.”