Yeonmi Park is a young woman who at 25 years of age has already experienced several lifetimes of horror in her life. When Park was just thirteen, and recovering from a botched gastrointestinal surgery she and her mother stole away on a frigid night, crossing a nearly frozen river to defect from her home country of North Korea and stealing away into China. The escape from the brutality of the Kim dictatorship did not end once they reached China.
Almost immediately upon crossing the border, Park’s human trafficker attempted to rape her. Only her mother’s intervention by allowing herself to be attacked saved Park from that humiliation. Unfortunately, both women were ultimately sold into the sex trade and assaulted both physical and mentally numerous times.
Finally with the help of fellow North Koreans in hiding and Christian missionaries, the two women once again escaped China, crossing the board and inhospitable Gobi Desert to arrive at the Mongolian border. Their plan was to enter Mongolia and seek asylum from the South Korean embassy there. After a tearful plea with the crossing guards, the two women was allowed to enter a refugee camp waiting for their resettlement to Seoul.
Arriving in Seoul, the women worked in a series of low-paying and low-status jobs while assimilating into their new-found freedom. The word freedom meant nothing to Park since living in North Korea is a very tight and controlled society. The government of both Kim’s have had numerous well-documented histories of human rights abuses. None of the citizens are allowed to practice religion and education is allowed only at the whims of the government.
North Korea engages in contrived food shortages and frequent power outages. Both of these events are meant to keep the population under control, and to reinforce the idea that the Kim government should be worshiped as near deities for their “solving” of the problems. Park reports many nights spent near death from starvation and cold.
A recent interview with Dailymail, addresses some inconsistencies in Park’s accounts of life under the Kim rule. Park addresses these with her typical strong refutation of Kim as an evil dictator. She said that some of the errors of fact are intentional to protect friends and family still under North Korean rule. Additionally, Park is not the first, nor only, defector to face Kim’s Youtube campaign of propaganda, attempting to lessen the impact of an insider’s view of life in his self-proclaimed “perfect world”.