Yeonmi Park’s Story – Insight Into A North Korean Woman’s Struggle To Live

Yeonmi Park grew up in North Korea accustomed to struggles she accepted as a normal part of life. Food shortage and oppression were everyday occurrences which must be endured. Even so her situation was favorable compared to most, as her father worked not only as a government employee, but also ran a smuggling operation to help support his family. It wasn’t until Yeonmi watched a pirated version of the movie Titanic that she finally realized how different the world outside North Korea was and began to yearn for it. Her father would eventually be arrested for his illegal operation and sentenced to hard labor. Her family was then branded criminals as well due to her father’s arrest. Upon her father’s release he urged his family to run to China in hopes of a better life. Her sister Eunmi would be the first to leave and did so alone. This was the last time Yeonmi Park would see her sister for 7 years. On the 30th of March 2007 Yeonmi and her mother would successfully escape to China with the aid of men who were, unbeknown to them, human traffickers. Once in China, Yeonmi and her mother were sold to separate men. Her mother for 65$ and Yeonmi for 26$. She would live here for 2 years, being united with her mother and father again before her father passed due to lung cancer. Her owner released her and in February 2009 she and her mother would set their sights on Mongolia as the next destination in their journey for freedom. After crossing the Gobi Desert they were found by guards who threatened to return them to North Korea, but ultimately allowed them to stay. Albeit in a detention center in Ulan Bator. In April 2009 the Mongolian and South Korean governments arranged to have them flown to South Korean where Yeonmi would become an outspoken rights activist for North Koreans. In 2014 Yeonmi and her mother were notified that Eunmi had arrived as well. For more details of Yeonmi’s struggle you can watch Todd Krainin’s in depth interview with Yeonmi about her journey at