Category Archives: Role Model

Yeonmi Park Tells It Like It Is

Watching the news we see thousands of North Koreans as they gather in a public square, clapping and cheering as their leader, Kim Jong-un, speaks to his adoring citizens. These public displays of affection of North Koreans televised worldwide are only one side of the story though. It is so easy to see these broadcasts and never know the truth behind the scene. A girl, barely 22, is ready to waken the world to what is really going on and the current state of affairs as North Koreans really experience them.

Yeonmi Park, a native North Korean, is a humanitarian who travels world-wide to raise awareness and create change in a place she describes as one of the darkest places on Earth. The scene we see of a crowd clapping and seemingly cheering “long live”, she explains is really people who are clapping and cheering to live. Guards positioned throughout the crowd are on the watch for those who are not clapping, or those who dare nod off. These people are then punished and at times executed for their lack of respect and support shown to Kim Jong-un. With her sharing these types of revelations with the world she has been targeted as an enemy of the Kim regime, however she does not let this stop her from sharing her experiences and stories others are too afraid to speak of with the world.

“In Order to Live” is a book authored by Yeonmi Park, detailing her life in North Korea and harrowing escape followed by the challenges of living in freedom for the first time in her life. In her book she shares vivid descriptions of her native country that evoke deep senses of despair, hope, compassion and strength. Her journey to freedom started when she was 14 as her family fled the borders of North Korea. Once across the border, their family faced many adversities to include human trafficking, rape, and black mail. Two years pass before they are able to escape to Mongolia and then to South Korea where they settle in and made a new life for themselves. She does not sugar-coat her experience; it is a raw and emotional read.

Currently, Yeonmi Park of youngvoicesadvocates travels the world and shares her story, hoping to help those who are left in North Korea and living under the oppressive Kim regime. She wishes to raise awareness, speak out against the travesty of a Kim loving public. Living in the free world is not easy, talking ill of the Kim family is often met with public defamation, rumors being started and even assassination attempts. She does not let the rumors and character attacks stop her and she is not afraid to keep spreading the stories of her people. Her hope is that by raising awareness things will change for her friends and family in North Korea, wishing for them that one day they will live in freedom and know what it is to be full, happy and to make their own choices.