Yeonmi Park’s Quest for Freedom

Yeonmi Park’s story is an inspiring one. After escaping from North Korea, she is now a human rights activist fighting for the freedom of the people of North Korea and the rest of the world. Park’s story has been heard in many platforms across the globe including Women in the World Summit. 21 year old Park is also writing a book to share her inspirational story with as many people as possible around the world. The book is titled Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom.

Everything they do is controlled by the state, which is lead by supreme leader Kim Jong Un. Guards are always around to make sure that orders are strictly followed.

Park’s life changed when her father got arrested on smuggling charges. Being a prisoner’s daughter was never easy. When living in North Korea became unbearable, the decision to flee the country was arrived at. Since there were guards positioned at the border in case anyone wanted to escape, Park and her family had to cross a river to get to China.

Life in China was not good either. Park was almost raped, before her mother rescued her and got raped in her place. Park buried her father alone during the night after he succumbed to colon cancer. She also got to experience human trafficking, first hand, after being sold to human traffickers. They could not stay in China any longer. Therefore, they decided to move to South Korea in search of better lives. They had to brace the extremely cold temperatures of Gobi desert to get there.

Speaking at the Women in the World summit after her escape, Park expressed her joy at finding new freedom. She felt like she owned her life for the first time. She no longer belonged to the state. Park wants to spend her life championing for the rights of people in North Korea. Over 20 million North Koreans are living in abject poverty.

The western Media is not doing enough to expose the injustices in North Korea. Rather than focusing on the oppression and violation of human rights, they concentrate of Kim Jong Un and his antics. The portrayal of North Koreans as naïve loyalists and passive victims is also not correct. However, individuals like Park are helping to change this narrative.

To Park, the situation in North Korea is not just a North Korean Problem; it is a global problem. Human rights violation needs to be addressed from a global perspective if there is any hope of ending the vice.