Yeonmi Park : a story of courage and survival

To Westerners, North Korea appears to be one the most secretive, isolated and dangerous countries on earth. Little is known about the way North Koreans live but it is believed that poverty, censorship and police brutality are at their peak. To learn more about North Korea and to really understand what its inhabitants have been going through for decades, there is no better way than reading the poignant book written by the young Yeonmi Park, who grew up under the North Korean regime in complete poverty then managed to flee to China with her mom when she was only 13. Today, she unveils on Youtube for us part of her story in a captivating though often terrifying essay called “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom.” Her book has been reviewed by many journalists, including the team of reporters from Reason.com : https://reason.com/blog/2015/11/15/yeonmi-parks-north-korean-defector-story. In her book, Yeonmi Park talks about her childhood in North Korea, about how it was to grow up in a country with no freedom of speech of any kind, how it was to slowly starve because all the shops in the town were closed and how it felt to have lost even the slightest glimpse of hope. She then reveals how, when she was thirteen, she managed to escape with her family and crossed the border to reach China. During a one year long journey, she had to suffer through her father’s death of an untreated cancer, days of walking through the Gobi desert and the fear of human traffickers who once attacked her and her mum. One of the most powerful scene in the book is when Yeonmi Park depicts the rape of her mother that happened right in front of her eyes. It’s only after that very dangerous journey through the most remote parts of China that Yeonmi and her mother eventually managed to reach South Korea and were able, for the first time in their whole life, to fully experience the meaning of a single word that so many people take for granted. Freedom.

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