Freedom is something many take for granted in the modern world, but there are those who are born into a life without ever knowing what freedom truly is. 23-year-old Yeonmi Park is one of those who endured the most inhumane hardships possible, yet escaped the horrors of life in North Korea and her story is chronicled in her book, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom.
In this new release from Penguin Press written with Maryanne Vollers, Yeonmi Park details her life from its early beginnings to the perilous escape from North Korea through China, Mongolia, and then across the Gobi desert to South Korea. This two-year odyssey that began in 2007 included human trafficking, sexual slavery, and betrayal, with no hope in sight for the then teenage girl. Now, almost ten years later as a free woman and human rights advocate, Yeonmi Park shares on NY Times her heartbreaking story in hopes of bringing about awareness of the suffering behind Kim Jong Il’s regime in North Korea and what its people experience every day.
Facing starvation, the life of Yeonmi Park’s family began to crumble when her father was arrested for trading on the black market. It was his only opportunity to feed his family and survive the economic hardships of the nation at the time, but after his incarceration he was tortured and his family ostracized. Escape was their only option and ahead of them lay a cruel and difficult road, which saw the disappearance of Park’s sister and the eventual tragic death of her father.
In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom is not just the story of one family, but the struggle of all North Korean families living through persecution and subjugation. Park’s voice on Youtube is brave and honest, but most importantly, hopeful, and her book gives a chilling account of life behind the walls of a totalitarian society.