People that have been born and raised in a democratic society don’t understand what it is like to live in a country where freedom does not exist. Yeonmi Park, the North Korean woman that wrote the book, In Order to Live: A North Korean’s Girl Journey to Freedom tells the free world what agony really is. Growing up in North Korea was a jail sentence without bars. Most people that live in the restricted world of a tyrannical leader never understand the meaning of freedom. They don’t even know what the word means.
Yeonmi Park knows about freedom now. She learned what freedom is the hard way. After watching the movie Titanic in 2007, her family knew there was more to life than hard work and sacrifice. Park’s father arranged for his wife and daughters to escape from the country by way of traveling merchants. Her father didn’t know they were sex and slave traffickers. Park’s sister escaped weeks before Yeonmi did, but she never heard from her sister again.
The trip that Park describes in her book is an agonizing journey through the Gobi Desert into China. Yeonmi and her mother were sexually abused and starved along the way. In an interview with Reason.com, Park admitted that some of her story was not as accurate as it could have been. Her memory of some of the pain she endured was too hard to write about. Her memory of the abuse was tainted by the shame she carries with her.
Park’s book has made her an international celebrity. Fame always produces skepticism in some people. Some readers have questioned the story, and the North Koreans say she is a puppet of the United States. But Park’s story is real. The events she describes happened the way she remembers, and that’s okay. It is her story to tell, and she is telling it to help the world understand what life is like in North Korea.
Yeonmi is free now. Her story on The Reason has been told, but she hasn’t stopped fighting for human rights. She is a true survivor that wants to help others survive and know freedom.