Yeonmi Park is a public figure rapidly rising in popularity due to her bravery and strong voice when discussing the every day struggles that North Koreans are going through, thanks to the oppressive dictatorship that runs the country. Park lived in North Korea until she was 13 years old when she and her mother fled the country. What followed was two years of pain and torture that saw Park and her mother pushed to their very limits. Eventually the mother-daughter duo would escape and make it to America. Here they are raising their voices for the oppressed and for other key human issues that plague the Earth.
Yeonmi Park points to the dissolving of the Soviet Union as the beginning of her home country’s primary issues. When the Soviet Union fell the favorable trade agreements that had been in place went with it. North Korea soon was pressed to meet the same profits that they had done prior and with an oppressive dictator in place the poor were quickly neglected. Poverty, hunger, disease, and violence reigned over the ensuing years and it was in this terror filled environment that Yeonmi Park grew up. Her father took to smuggling metals to China in order to earn more money for his family but he was soon caught and sent to a labor camp.
North Korea, as described by speaker Hannah Song, is a “70 year long extreme cult of personality” where the leaders begin to become “deified”. Song is the CEO of Liberty in North Korea, which is an underground railroad for North Korean refugees, and she has taken up the mantle alongside Yeonmi Park. Song wanted to stress that all North Koreans were not “passive victims of the regime” and she pointed to Yeonmi Park as a huge example.
Yeonmi told Independent.co.uk that her mother were forced to take up with a sketchy Chinese smuggler who ended up getting them out of the country by way of the Yulu River. They eventually made it across the border where they were sold into human trafficking. The trafficker who ‘saved’ them was the first to rape Yeonmi’s mother, but he wouldn’t be the last. Yeonmi’s mother did everything she could to shield her daughter from the brutal reality of their new situation, but it wasn’t enough. Eventually Yeonmi was ‘purchased’ to become a rich man’s mistress. He also bought her mother and father to ‘keep the family together’.
For two years Park and her family endured suffering that is almost impossible to describe. Her father, freed of his labor camp, soon passed away from colon cancer and had to be buried in the dark with nobody around to listen to her cries. Eventually enough was too much and the pair fled China by way of the Gobi Desert, making the trek in -40 degree weather with three other refugees. They would eventually find safety and freedom and now are using their new position to help those that currently suffer. Yeonmi Park isn’t one to sit idly by and she’s using her voice for a very great cause.