As technology continues to grow and change, the world has become so interconnected. We can use video chat to communicate with friends and family across the world. We have knowledge at our fingertips thanks to smart phones and internet access. Yet, there are still parts of the world that are a mystery, dark places with poverty, brutality, and there is no such thing as freedom. Yeonmi Park, in her memoir, “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” gives us a glimpse into one of these dark places. Yeonmi’s book, published by Penguin Press on September 29, 2015 retails in hardback at $15.37 and can be bought on Kindle at $13.99. Yeonmi Park’s memoir, which chronicles her life and journey to freedom, is rated 4.8 starts on Amazon and is on several of Amazon’s Best Seller’s List, including #1 in North Korean History, #4 in Asian Historical Biographies and Memories, and #19 in Women in History.
Born in 1993, Yeonmi Park’s family was considered affluent by North Korean standards. Her parents were both civil servants and were part of the elite class. This all changed when her father was arrested for selling on the black market, trying to provide more food for his family. This was the end to their privilege and they were soon marginalized and starving. Her father was sent to a labor camp as punishment for his crime. Desperate and starving, Yeonmi Park on nknews and her mother fled to China. Although they escaped from the brutal regime of North Korea, they faced many horrors in their journey to freedom.
Yeonmi Park and her mother arrived in China in 2007 when Yeonmi was 13 years old. They were searching for Yeonmi’s sister, Eunmi, who escaped China days before them. Upon their arrival her mother was immediately raped and they were both sold into the slave trade. During this time, Yeonmi’s father was released from the labor camp and they were reunited in China. Sadly, he died in China from cancer and was buried in an unmarked grave for fear of being caught by the authorities and sent back to North Korea.
Two years after arriving in China, Yeonmi and her mother were desperate to leave. They found help in Korean and Chinese missionaries that helped them escape to Mongolia, traveling overnight through the Gobi Desert in freezing temperatures. Eventually, the Mongolian authorities allowed them to go to South Korea where they were eventually reunited with Eunmi.
Yeonmi continued her education in Seoul and has become a human rights activist raising awareness of the brutal conditions in North Korea. Since her rise to fame, North Korea has released a video of Yeonmi’s family still in Korea in order to discredit her story as lies.