Yeonmi Park is a remarkable young woman. Only twenty-one, she has already lived through a remarkable journey, which will be documented in her memoir, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom, which comes out at the end of the month.
Park was born in North Korea in 1993. She first realized how repressive the nation was when she was a child, and watched a bootleg copy of the movie Titanic. This American movie helped her realize how much more there was to the world, and showed her the possibility of romance and love. Park started to dream of a better life.
When Park was thirteen she left North Korea with her mother. They were able to get to China, but things didn’t get better. They were only able to cross the border, but it meant becoming involved with human trafficking, which was a traumatic experience. Park’s father was able to join them in China, but died there. They weren’t even able to mourn him properly.
Park and her mother managed to escape, leaving China by walking across the Gobi desert in the freezing cold. They managed to reach Mongolia, where they were able to petition for asylum in South Korea. Park had to adjust to a new life once again. She had to live with her trauma, but she had a chance to live a normal life. She got a job, and enrolled in university. Park and her mother were eventually reunited with her little sister. But instead of moving on entirely Park felt the need to speak out about what had happened to her.
As the world is changing we need new voices of young people speaking out against injustice. Park spoke on The Guardian and has faced many challenges in her young life, and is brave to share her experiences with the world. Her story is remarkable, but not unique. Many others experience political repression in North Korea, and the horrors of human trafficking. Instead of moving on and trying to live a quiet life Yeonmi decided to put her story out there, in the hope that something will change.
Her book, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom, comes out September 29th.