North Korea is always in the headlines for their strict regime and dictatorship, but rarely do we see a true glimpse of not only how difficult life there can be but the hardships the countries citizens face if they choose to try to flee this incredibly strict nation. Yeonmi Park has recently made headlines with her public story turned into a novel of her escape and the consequences that followed. She has become a survivor and symbol of what refugees of Kim Jong-II’s dictatorship has done to the 25 million people living in his country, and the hardships they face if they attempt to escape.
Yeonmi Park has recapped her riveting story for many interviews since her book came out. She always tells them she had no idea what freedom was, wasn’t even familiar with the word, had no clue of the concept, was simply happy to have food. She details her trek across the frozen Yalu River along side her mother as they fled North Korea and headed to China, no money or plans, just looking to escape their unbearable homeland.
This journey would last years and would take them across China, through the immense Gobi desert, all the way to the Mongolian border before they finally reached freedom in South Korea by plane. Yeonmi Park’s journey and will to survive her abusive life, just outside the borders of the law, shows her true inner strength. While she and her mother made it to freedom, sadly, her father crossed the border to join them but died very shortly after from untreated cancer, never even realizing the freedom and democracy that exists in the world.
While most are completely captivated by her tale of survival, some call foul. Pyongyang has released a long video that tries to discredit her tale. Park of the Young Voices Advocates insists that their propaganda to call her out is simply that, propaganda. North Korea is fueled by keeping people in line and creating images of what the country wants to portray itself as, trying to discredit any people that might expose the underlying poverty and unhappiness of its people is simply part of how the corrupt government runs the country.
All information was originally obtained from a report at Reason.com and can be found at https://reason.com/blog/2015/11/15/yeonmi-parks-north-korean-defector-story