There may be no greater survivor story in the past ten years than that of North Korean defector, Yeonmi Park. Yeonmi Park’s story starts out like that of so many embattled North Korean citizens: stuck in a country that seems intent on dragging you down while dreaming of a better life that seems all too far away and impossible to attain. North Korea isn’t about letting their citizens seek these freedoms and that is what makes the country almost mythical in their oppressiveness. However, Park did make it out and, as reported by Reason.com, she has already gotten the attention of Pyongyang.
Park’s story is one of continued hope and a thirst for freedom that goes past anything you can probably comprehend. Park talks about growing up in North Korea the way a POW would talk about their time in captivity: they were afraid to speak freely, to talk about their oppressor, to even dare to hope for more than just enough sustenance to survive on a day to day basis. Freedom wasn’t a word that anyone truly comprehended. So in 2007 things changed with a quickness as Yeonmi was forced to flee the country. Her father had been taken in for smuggling and he had been thrown into a labor camp and she would never see him again.
So Park began her journey to freedom by working with human traffickers while she was only 13 years old. She was smuggled out of North Korea and into China where she was immediately turned on, forced into human slavery. From there she was sold like cattle and forced to live to her masters whims, as horrifying as they could be. We won’t talk about her complete journey but we will say that this was her lowest point and that things would get better, far in the future. After two yours of being captive she managed to escape, fleeing across the Gobi Desert, before finding safety at the Mongolian border. Now Park is a vocal human rights activist and is well know on Youtube, but target of Pyongyang’s scorn, as they continue to launch attacks on her to try and discredit her heroic journey.