Normally, the life of a thirteen year old girl is filled with giggling with girlfriends, crushes on boys and awkward moments that seem to last forever.
Not for Yeonmi Park, the years leading to her thirteenth birthday were full of situations no one should experience, regardless of age.
This was the year Yeonmi took on the very adult and dangerous task of escaping the chains of living in North Korea. Starvation, executions of loved ones and oppression at its heaviest, were the surreal reality of daily living by the age of thirteen for this brave young woman.
This oppressed life was normal for Park, not knowing that freedom was a feeling as much as a statement. Sexual oppression became a daily ritual and part of equality in her world. Being hungry was not an occasional problem; it was her foundation of normality.
Filled with the history of her own life, that echoed the lives of an entire population of people treated in the same inhuman way, Yeonmi Park wrote a book, telling the tale of her path to freedom, In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom is an Amazon best selling book that tells one family’s journey to find peace.
The escape from North Korea to China, was a temporary solution to the long term answer. China presented new challenges, decisions and compromises that set forth their continued trail to freedom. After 3 years in China took much from the life of Yeonmi who had already lost so much she pushed forward. Onward she traveled across the desert in continued search for the life she demanded as her own.
She remarked from New York, in a recent interview with Reason TV of her fathers crossing the border to support his family. Who then died of cancer before the final journey to peace, freedom and democracy, “My father died without knowing even this kind of democracy exists in the world,” Dying before reaching true freedom, “He didn’t even know this much food was available in the world,” she stated.
The story of this one young brave North Korean soul sets forth an understanding of how things can be perceived as reality from one side of the story. When in actuality our understandings of the lives in this mysterious country are much different and more oppressive than we can imagine.