It takes reading about another person’s backstory for many people to truly understanding what different perspectives on life are like. This could not ring truer for many, including one Yeonmi Park of North Korea.
Park, who was once a citizen of North Korea, is one of the few who successfully defected from the country in favor of a far less restrictive lifestyle. According to Reason.com’s interview on Park herself, the concept of freedom used to be nothing more than a word to her, saying that having food and water were the happiest she could be earlier in life. That changed when her family witnessed the imprisonment of her father under the regime of then-leader Kim Jong-Il, and with that, learning just how brutal and repressive the government could truly be. She was prompted to try and seek true freedom after this and eventually fled the country alongside her family. However, her successful escape from North Korea has not gone unnoticed, as the current government lead by Kim Jong-Un has taken to launching propaganda campaigns against Park and her family, suggesting that they are agents and spies for the United States.
Park was born in the Hyesan district of North Korea, her father working as a civil servant for the North Korean Workers Party and her mother was a nurse for the North Korean Army. Park and her family enjoyed a fairly privileged life in her youth, but the family began encountering struggles as she got older. One such example involved her father being arrested and imprisoned for illegal insider trading. Between this and watching a pirated movie and understanding its story, this is what prompted Park and her family to try and leave North Korea. After successfully crossing the border into neighboring China, the family enlisted the help of Christian missionaries and human traffickers to get into Mongolia. From there the family remained for some time before making their way to South Korea where they began to build a new life there. Park’s father was unable to make the journey due to colon cancer, which he passed away from some time earlier.