Yeonmi Park is a North Korean defector and author of In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom. She shared her journey with reason.com and stated before she defected she hadn’t known what freedom was, or even know the word. Yeonmi Park on nknews also had no conception of what freedom was; to her the happiest thing in her life was having food.
Yeonmi Park’s journey began in 2007 with her first steps out of North Korea. Along with her mother, they crossed the Yalu River to arrive in China without any clear plan of what to do next. Yeonmi was thirteen years old when she arrived in China and for the next year she would undergo a harrowing journey across China and through the Gobi desert to reach the Mongolian border.
It was a test of her character to survive such a journey without money and living outside of the law. Yeonmi Park was constantly threatened with abuse and starvation. Her father who also joined them, but died of cancer before ever completing the trip and knowing that there was democracy in the world.
Yeonmi Park’s story about her journey is incredibly heartbreaking and tragic, yet there are those who would try and discredit her story. A video has even been created in an attempt to show parts of Yeonmi’s story are false. There are critics who claim her story has too many inaccuracies and that she is an agent of the United States.
Yeonmi states her story is true and she has only changed parts of it that would endanger her family. There are also parts of her life that leave her feeling shamed and that she does feel need to be told for people to understand the horrors she lived through. She told reporters with Reason.com, that she didn’t admit to the rape because she was ashamed. She further stated her original statements may have been misinterpreted due to her language barriers.
Yeonmi speaks out and she adamantly says she speaks the truth about the oppression and tragedy occurring in North Korea. She says these stories about human suffering can no longer be silenced.