For 27 year old Yeonmi Park life has never been easy. For most people that sentence is easy to apply to their own lives, but for Park it takes on special significance. You see, Yeonmi Park is a survivor and she escaped the most oppressive country on the planet in order to make it happen. Having endured 13 years under Kim Jong Un in North Korea and then 2 more under the brutal thumb of various human traffickers, Yeonmi is finally opening up to tell her story in order to possibly help those who are still trapped in the vicious world.
Back in 2007 Yeonmi Park, then 13 years old, and her mother made a desperate attempt to escape the oppressive North Korean regime that had seen so many of her countrymen killed. Kim Jong Un and his regime had turned North Korea into something resembling a nightmare. Bodies were stacked up on street corners, the citizens of the country were impoverished and hungry, and neighbor would sell out neighbor in order to curry favor with the local military.
Park's father, who would later die of colon cancer, was caught smuggling metal out into China in order to raise money for his family. As a punishment he was forced into a labor camp and he stayed there until his freedom was purchased by a Chinese human trafficker. Without her father to protect or provide, Yeonmi and her mother quickly made plans to flee the country. They found a Chinese trafficker that helped them escape into China down the Yulu River and past the North Korean guards. Once in China, however, things became much more grim.
Yeonmi and her mother were threatened with rape by the trafficker and Yeonmi's mother took the brunt of the violence. The two were sold into human trafficking and there they 'survived' for the following two years. Yeonmi was forced to become the mistress of a rich businessman and in return he offered to purchase both Yeonmi's mother and father. Park took the deal, reluctantly, After two years Park and her mother were beyond breaking and escaped in the dead of night, with three other slaves, across the Gobi Desert. They followed the stars in the -40 degree cold. Park was not the first person to take this 'Underground Railroad' and nor is she the last.
Now Yeonmi is setting herself up as an activist and a political figure, determined to bring change to a country that took so much from her. Park told tales of how North Koreans called the rest of the world 'impure' and 'hostile' and now she wants to swing the spotlight back to where the true chaos is reigning. Park is one of the few voices unafraid to speak out about her former plight and she is using these reserves of courage and fortitude in order to enact a positive change on the world. Yeonmi knows that her speaking out makes her a target but she is unafraid, saying that it is for "all of our rights, human rights."