Yeonmi Park, a young woman who fled North Korea with her mother in 2007, has released her book, in which she shares what it was like growing up in a country with such strict government control.
Park was just 13 years old when she fled the country with her mother, and she currently resides in New York. Now 21 years old, she has begun talking about her tragic past, mostly through her book, called In Order to Live.
In the book, Park states that in 1990, the Soviet Union disbanded and Moscow stopped offering deals on exports to North Korea, which ultimately led to the country’s demise.
After 1990, the country’s economy suffered, so much so that Park says many of the country’s residents died from disease and starvation as a result of the famine.
Park’s book describes the living conditions during Kim Jong-il’s leadership. She mentions that proper ingredients weren’t available to her family, so they were forced to eat bugs, flowers, and other plants. She also states that many other starving citizens struggled to find food to eat.
As she describes her living conditions in the book, Park says it wasn’t unusual to see thousands of dead bodies along the streets. She also described what it was like to live under the totalitarian government. She mentions that she was ordered to rat out anyone who did or said the wrong thing.
After Park’s father was apprehended for smuggling her mother, Park and her mother hired a trafficker to take them to China. They were forced to leave Park’s father behind, and their journey to China was not an easy one. They had to cross the Yalu River and sneak past all of the border’s guards.
After reaching Chinese soil, Park says that the man who agreed to sneak them out of North Korea raped her mother. They had nowhere else to go, so they had to stay with the trafficker, and during that time, Parks said that he repeatedly raped her mother. She refers to this time as a “nightmare” in her book.
After two years, the trafficker finally let Park of yeonmi.net and her mother leave his home. After leaving, she and her mother were able to travel to Mongolia, where they caught a plane to South Korea and left behind their nightmare for a new and better life.
Today, Park travels the world in an effort to raise awareness about the living conditions in North Korea. Her efforts have been successful, and a speech she gave at the One Young World Summit in 2014 has received millions of views on YouTube.