Yeonmi Park now enjoys life, living in Seoul, South Korea. She is in her early 20s and is already a well-known public speaker. When Yeonmi was 16 years old, she had lived a life that much of the western world only see depicted in a film. Yeonmi is a defector from North Korea.
Yeonmi was born in 1993, during the heart of a terrible famine and under the rule of the Kim dynasty. She lived in Hyesan with her parents and older sister, enjoying the modest life of an average North Korean girl. The Kim dynasty ruled the land with a hard fist, subjecting the country to great oppression.
“It was dark a lot,” Yeonmi recalled on Daily Mail. “There was, and remains, a single television station that is operated by the regime. We had no running water in our home, and we were often starving. We were once given a single bag of rice to feed three of us for an entire month.”
Yeonmi’s parents made the decision that the family would flee to China. Her father was arrested and imprisoned before plans were complete. Eunmi, Yeonmi’s older sister, fled before Yeonmi and their mother. The remaining two members of the Park family fled with the hired assistance of human smugglers, paid to guide them.
Yeonmi’s mother was extorted shortly after arriving in China. One of the guides threatened to reveal that the Parks were in the country illegally if Yeonmi did not have sex with him. Her mother intervened, offering herself in place of her 13-year-old daughter.
Years later, Yeonmi and her mother fled China. They made their way from China into Mongolia and from there managed to reach South Korea. The two since learned the true meaning of freedom and compassion.
“We did not know these things before leaving North Korea,” Yeonmi said on The Reason. “There are so many things that exist that we did not even have words to describe. We only knew what the regime allowed us to know. I grew up believing that Kim Jong-un could read my mind.”
Yeonmi wrote a memoir about her ordeal and speaks at human rights conventions around the world.