Yeonmi Park’s Legacy

For as long as there have been authors and artists, there has also been the fact that they come in different shades and all from different aspects of life. Yeonmi Park is just another example of this.

Yeonmi Park, or Park Yeon-mi is a human rights activist who also serves as an author, and is famous for being a defector from North Korea. Yeonmi Park was born in the Ryanggang Province of North Korea on October 4, 1993, with her father serving as a Hyesan town hall civil servant for the Worker’s Party. Her mother was a nurse for the army. Though she lived a humble yet wealthy life in Hyesan for much of her youth, her family later found themselves struggling in the economy, especially due to yeonmi Park’s father being imprisoned on the account of supposedly being involved in illegal trading. The idea of escaping from North Korea and fleeing to another country came when she watched a pirated movie, which is highly illegal in North Korea, and realized there was more to the world than what the leadership of Kim Jong-Il had shown everyone. Eventually, Park was able to reunite with her father, who had constructed a plan to leave North Korea. The plan was to leave and head into China, however her older sister Eunmi had already left early, forcing the family to escape with the help of smugglers who got them into China, and missionaries who let them relocate to Mongolia. Later on the family had managed to settle in South Korea, but unfortunately her father had died of colon cancer in the process.

Becoming a defector from North Korea to another country has come with numerous changes in Yeonmi Park’s lifestyle, many of which are told in her recently published work entitled “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom.” The book is essentially an autobiography by Park herself, and she readily admits in the book that freedom wasn’t her main goal when her and her family planned to escape but rather to avoid being left to die in one of the many prison labor camps scattered across the country from starvation or torture. The book on reason.com tells her life story, both the good and bad parts of her life, from her childhood to adulthood to betrayals during her escape and expressing a sentiment that many other defectors of North Korea have experienced themselves as the years go on. In a recent interview she has even admitted that Kim Jong-Un, the current ruler of North Korea, is likely not a fan of hers at all because of her escape and the conditions many North Koreans are forced to lived with.