“In the free world, children dream about what they want to be when they grow up and how they can use their talents. When I was four and five years old, my only adult ambition was to buy as much bread as I liked and eat all of it.”
Yeonmi Park, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom
Yeonmi Park released her autobiography on Amazon, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom in September 2015. Park tells the story of how she and her mother escaped North Korea when she was a teenager and more, what drove her to become a human rights activist. On Reason’s blog, Todd Kraninin tells Park’s story. Yeonmi Park is revered for her courage. How much of her backstory is believable?
Fleeing in Spring of 2007 across the Yalu River into China, Park and her mother had never seen the world outside the insular North Korean reality and had no plans. Yeonmi Park began her teenage years fleeing and experienced her coming of age as a slave bride alongside her mother merely for seeking freedom. The plight of China took years and was riddled with abuse and brushes with death.
Arriving in South Korea, the Parks created a home that would never be shared with her father. He passed away from untreated cancer and before he experienced freedom and the knowledge of democracy and the existence of food abundance. Instead of assimilating into the South Korean culture, Park came into adulthood with the realization she must tell her story and reveal the truths of North Korea and Chinese brokers dealing in slave marriages. Her greatest hope in sharing her story was to find her sister who had escaped into China before and had not been found.
In response to Park’s bold abandonment of her home country, and more likely her publication and publicity of it, the North Korean capital Pyongyang released a propaganda video on NK News to diminish her story. The video, Park Yeon Mi, The Puppet of the Human Rights Plot, positions Park and her mother as American advocates set out to undermine North Korea. In support of the video, distractors point to holes in her story to discredit her view of her homeland.
Yeonmi Park absorbs this distractions and stands by her story and explains changes needed to be made to protect herself and her family.