Yeonmi Park‘s new book, “In Order to Live,” tells about her family’s escape from North Korea. Now living in New York and studying English, Yeonmi was only 13 when the family’s saga began. In the book she describes North Korea’s decline when Moscow ended its special rates to the totalitarian North Korean government. Starvation and disease ran rampant as North Korea bordered on collapse. Under Kim Jonq-il dictatorship food was scarce, and her family was forced to eat insects and flowers to stay alive. Many died, and Yeonmi tells of how seeing dead bodies in heaps was common place. The Park family struggled, and authority figures encouraged her to inform on suspicious conversations.
Her father was a civil servant, but was arrested for pedaling illegal trade goods to support his hungry family. The family decided they needed to the escape the oppression to save their daughters, and Mr. Park sent his wife and daughters to China. They engaged a trafficker who smuggled them into China, but their upon arrival repeatedly raped and abused the women. After two years of struggle, and believing Yeonmi’s sister to be lost and dead, Yeonmi and her mother were let go. Mr. Park who was imprisoned for his retail activities was released from his prison camp on a medical discharge, and he joined his family in China. They crossed the Gobi desert, and made their way to Mongolia where they found a flight to South Korea. In South Korea the little family was reunited with Yeonmi’s sister, but Mr. Park fell ill to cancer and passed on.
Young Yeonmi travels the world now in her freedom speaking out for freedom on the Independent and the violation of human rights. She tells the story of her enslavement in hopes to bring relief to North Korea. She has given speeches at the Oslo Freedom Forum, and university and colleges across the world. At the United Nations she addressed the Young World Summit where she met Hillary Clinton, and she is the youngest of the Ubben Lecturers.
With her book, she hopes to bring the plight of North Korean refugees to the world. Yeonmi felt she was forgotten, and she wants to the world to remember her. She wants to make the world aware of the horrors her family endured, and the suffering of North Korean citizens left behind under the thumb of present North Korean regime. Yeonmi is 22 now, but her story began in 2007. She learned to live and thrive in freedoms she never imagined, and she wants to bring the dream of freedom to North Korea. She hopes and prays that in the future, North and South Korea can come to a peaceful accord, so families and friends can be reunited and everyone can live in peace.