Imagine your entire life being dictated, without question. Back in November, 2015 Reason.com told the harrowing story of Yeonmi Park, a North Korean defector who escaped across China. Yeonmi and her family braved the border guards and fled to China. Just thirteen years old, Yeonmi began her trek with her family, across the Yalu River, continuing through the Gobi desert. It took them more than a year to truly be free.
As a child, growing up in North Korea, Yeonmi Park witnessed how special forces abused the citizens under the paranoid atmosphere of Kim dictatorships. Some of her testimonies have been passed on to the UN investigation before the Panel published its damning report on the situation of human rights in North Korea. Many reports from defectors have been too difficult to verify by the UN, because of access to the country, yet all defectors tell the same stories.
Park’s full triumphant story is now published. Her autobiography tells of famine-stricken childhoods, North China gangsters running forced marriages, her family’s travel across the Gobi desert before reaching their freedom, and the post-traumatic stress many suffer. Yeonmi says on a New York Times interview that she never believed she suffered from post-traumatic stress. Yeonmi points out, “Until I started to write the book, I just turned off my mind. I could not even remember what had happened,” and “I really hope that this book is the light on the darkest place in the world.”
In her Amazon released autobiography, Yeonmi also tells how North Korean people risk penalities to watch banned DVD movies. “Special police search regularly the houses of people, and when they find films, individuals are sent to a labor camp, or a public trial and then execute as a deterrent,” said Park.
Yeonmi has been an advocate for human rights, and the story of her North Korean defection has captivated the world, as well as opening our eyes to North Korean atrocities.