Yeonmi Park grew up in a loving home in the most repressive country in the world. Despite the supportive presence of her family, she grew up in constant fear. She feared that Kim Jong Un could hear her thoughts, and he would punish her for them. Fear of the dictator and his knowledge of secrets is not an uncommon fear in North Korea.
She saw a friend’s mother publicly executed. After her own father was tortured for trading on the black market in order to feed his family and after her sister left home to escape to China, Park fled North Korea with her mother and father. She admits to experiences that no child — no human being — should ever have to endure. She was treated as a commodity, and she escaped again to walk across the Gobi desert with her mother, afraid to use a light to see and afraid to cry out if they got lost.
Yeonmi Park arrived in Mongolia, but many didn’t. Her father died in China, and she has not reunited with her sister. She has family still living in North Korea, and that family is at risk for reprisals aimed at Yeonmi. In a government video, her family paraded across the screen denouncing Yeonmi. Despite this, Yeonmi is using her voice to bring awareness to the world about what citizens of North Korea suffer, and what they are willing to suffer to escape from that Stygian world.
Park writes about the struggle to escape the darkness of her birth country and her struggle to find freedom of spirit in the West. In her Amazon best-selling book In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom, Park reveals the truth of the repressive order that starves, tortures and kills its own citizens. Despite direct threats to other outspoken defectors and implicit threats to her own family, Park continues to reveal the nightmarish world that she escaped. She hopes that in doing so, she and other outspoken defectors will change that world and bring freedom to all citizens of North Korea.