Yeonmi Park’s Escape From North Korea

On March 31, 2007 a thirteen year old North Korean girl named Yeonmi Park began her journey to freedom with her mother. To Yeonmi this journey was not for freedom, it was for survival and survival meant escaping the inhumane regime of North Korea. Today the 22 year old author is a human rights activist who advocates for victims of human trafficking and is working to promote human rights around the globe especially for North Koreans by telling her story in her Amazon released book.
Yeonmi and her mother decided to flee North Korea when her father was arrested for violating laws against black market sales in order to make ends meet during the countries economic collapse in the 1990’s. This arrest left her family in dyer living conditions and tainted the family name. Yeonmi describes her living conditions of starvation and dead bodies on the streets of North Korea as normal in her interview with “I had no idea what freedom was, I’ve never even heard the word before. I had no concept of the word. To me freedom meant a large bowl of warm bread,” says Yeonmi in a Reason interview.

After crossing the frozen Yalu River and arriving in China Yeonmi’s very first encounter with China was to discover that the person assisting herself and her mother intended to rape and sell both of them or send them back to North Korea. Yeonmi states her mother was raped and sold right on the spot in order to protect her. Two years later Yeonmi agreed to become her owners mistress in return for her father and mother however, her father ill with cancer, never made it.

After her fathers death her owner decided to let her go. It was at this time that Yeonmi met Christian missionaries in China who told them how to get to South Korea. Yeonmi states that a member of the Christian missionary told her if they went to South Korea they would be free. Yeonmi and her mother crossed the Gobi desert in 2009 to get to Mongolia where they remained in a camp until they were shipped to South Korea.

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