Category Archives: Survival Stories

Yeonmi Park Reflects on Escape from North Korea

“I hope no one sees Kim Jong-Un as a joke,” Yeonmi Park said tearfully during an interview on NK News. “There are 25 million people there in North Korea and this, here, is paradise. It is a heaven.” Human rights activist Yeonmi Park is strikingly beautiful, but beneath her warm smile and dark brown eyes lies a story. When Yeonmi was just thirteen years old, she and her mother attempted to escape the harsh rule of life in North Korea. Her family had employed human smugglers to assist them in reaching South Korea. When they reached China, instead what they encountered was, even more, terror. Yeonmi’s mother was raped, and they were sold into slavery. “Women in North Korea were taught that purity is everything,” Yeonmi said. “We were taught that anything bad that happens is the end of the world. Having this story to tell felt like the end of the world to me. However, if one woman tells her story, maybe others will.” Several years after being enslaved, Yeonmi and her mother were freed. The pair managed to cross the Gobi Desert and find their way to South Korea. Yeonmi’s father was imprisoned at the time she and her mother left North Korea. He later died of cancer. Yeonmi’s older sister, Eunmi, had fled the country without her mother and sister. The three reunited in South Korea. Despite some struggles, Yeonmi Park has come a long way from living in constant fear and starvation in North Korea. She enrolled in college and studied criminal justice. Yeonmi has penned a memoir and participated in multiple human rights summits on Youtube. “I lost faith in humanity,” Yeonmi said. “But we must help those in North Korea. We must tell China to stop sending people back to North Korea. They will be killed. This should be criminal. We must tell North Korea not to kill its people.”