Yeonmi Park was born under the oppressive dictatorship of Kim Jong-il in North Korea. Yeonmi lived with her parents and sister in Hyesan, which was near the border of China. The family was hungry, often to the point of starving. Looking back, she remembers being denied many basic freedoms, of course then they had no idea what freedom even was.
On March 31, 2007, her family decided bravely to make an attempt to leave the country in search of a better life. Yeonmi’s sister had made the journey in secret before the family was able to, now the rest followed behind. At just 13-years-old, she crossed the Yalu River with her mother into China. Once in China, her and her mother encountered traffickers who threatened to keep the two apart. Through some negotiations, the mother and daughter were eventually able to stay together, and smugglers brought her father over the border as well. Unfortunately he died from cancer just a short time later.
The mother and daughter made their way through Mongolia and eventually settled into Seoul, South Korea. Once there, Yeonmi was able to enroll and finish school. They were also able to locate and reunite with her missing sister as well.
Yeonmi is now 21-years-old, living in New York, and a public speaker as well as a human rights activist. Yeonmi Park shares her story on the Reason TV and with people around the world to show what the North Korean regime is really like and that hope can still live in the darkest of places.
For the full story on Yeonmi Park‘s harrowing escape, click the link to read it on Reason.com. She has also published a book about her escape called “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom”.