Now Entering Russ's World
Yeonmi Park’s story is a remarkable one of tenacity and courage. She has gone through a unspeakable series of difficulties, yet she persevered to share her stories with others. Park now speaks out against the cruel dictatorship of North Korea as an advocate for human rights.
Park’s parents both worked for the North Korean government. Her father served the state as a government employee of the Workers’ Party, our mother served as a nurse in the Army. In 2002, the family moved to the city where her father went into business. She remembers her family being fairly affluent throughout much of her young life.
Yeonmi Parks father was later arrested for crimes against the state, and sent to prison to serve hard labor. She says that she received a new revelation about how people can actually live after viewing a pirated copy of the American movie “Titanic.” She says that when she saw the movie it gave her a new idea about what life could be like. She realized that love was a greater force for good that the state, and it gave her what she calls a “taste of what freedom could truly be.” She came to the realization of just how cruel and tyrannical her government was when she witnessed one of her mother’s friends executed for selling an illegal copy of a James Bond movie.
Later on, her father became sick while he was in prison. The state, understanding the severity of his illness, released him from captivity, and he was reunited with his family. It was during that brief period of freedom, he devised a plan to escape North Korea with his family, though he was still extremely sick. They decided that they would escape to China. Unbeknownst to them however, her older sister left the country before them without letting them know. Undaunted, the executed their escape plan, leaving North Korea and sneaking into China, unbeknownst to North Korean authorities.
They did not realize that the trials that they had in China would be much worse than their ordeal in North Korea. Park witnessed many horrors there as they were smuggled across China, including the rape of her mother. Through their ordeal, they managed with the help of Chinese and Korean Christian missionaries to escape to Mongolia, where South Korean diplomats helped them to relocate to South Korea. When they finished their arduous journey in 2007, Park dedicated her life to full-time activism, and became a human rights activist, based in South Korea.
Park continues to work to this day, speaking out against the North Korean regime, and informing people of the brutal oppression that occurs to millions of people daily.