Yeonmi Park was born into a repressive and totalitarian regime in North Korea. She endured a hard childhood with an even harder teenage life. She was born and raised in Hyesan city to a political activist father. Her life began taking a turn for the worst when her father became a target of the Kim regime. The family was branded enemies of the state and forced into poverty. They were struck by hunger and starvation as food became a luxury they could not afford.
Escape to China
At 13 years old, Park and her mother were forced into exile in China. What followed her defection is a harrowing story of human trafficking, hope and will to taste freedom. At that tender age, Park faced prostitution, human trafficking rackets, starvation and constant abuse to the point where she contemplated suicide.
After her father’s release from jail, he followed his family into China. However, as fate would have it, he died of cancer due to neglect and lack of treatment months after his escape. Yeonmi is bitter that her father died without experiencing true freedom and democracy two of the things he fought for in North Korea.
Freedom at Last
After months of separation and captivity, Yeonmi Park was finally reunited with her mother. Together they were able to cross the Gobi Desert and reached the Mongolian border. They were rescued and airlifted to South Korea where they were given political asylum. The journey required exceptional will and strength of character from a teenage girl to complete.
Yeonmi’s fight against a Repressive Regime
Though she was forced into exile for fear of her own life, Yeonmi Park has taken up the mantle to fight one of the most repressive and secretive regimes in the world. This courageous act has put her in the cross hairs of the Kim government which started a smear campaign to discredit her. However, Yeonmi remains undeterred in her quest to reveal the horrors that millions face every day in North Korea. She reiterates that Kim Jong-un’s government needs to be stopped and that she will not be silenced.
Originally posted on: https://reason.com/blog/2015/11/15/yeonmi-parks-north-korean-defector-story