Yeonmi Park – The Journey to Freedom

Yeonmi Park a human rights activist fled from North Korea in her attempt to finally have a taste of freedom. Although this twenty-one-year-old is rapidly becoming the face that represents freedom to her oppressed people, the story of her journey is as grim as the regime in North Korea.
Life in North Korea
Growing up in the dictator run country is as brutal and repressive as you can imagine. The regime has control and influences every aspect of peoples’ lives in North Korea. Her father was arrested for sending metals to China and was sentenced to labor camp. That was the point when Park and her mother decided that it was time to try and look for freedom elsewhere.
Yeonmi Park of youngvoicesadvocates was taught not to express her voice as everyone is always listening for the wrong words that might provoke retaliation. Not many countries are as secretive and such a closed community as North Korea. But the known fact is that 24 million people live under the thumb of Kim Jong Un, the 32 year old dictator. The propaganda in that country hides the poverty of the nation, disguising the actual state of this dangerous country.
Not only does the propaganda teach people from an early age that North Korea is the best country there is, but it teaches them that other countries are threats and can bring nothing good to anyone.
The Escape From North Korea
Once her father became a prisoner, Park was branded as an outcast by this isolated nation. She realized that there was no hope for a better future there and in 2007, at the age of 13, she fled with her mother. The borders had guards who were instructed to shoot anyone on sight who was trying to reach China, but they had some help from someone they knew and that person helped them cross the border. However, getting to China was not the end of their miseries.
The Gruesom Time in China
While they were in China, a man attempted to rape Yeonmi. As her mother did not allow for that to happen, she got raped instead for protecting her daughter’s life. Unfortunately, they both got sold into human trafficking. The man who bought Yeonmi blackmailed her to become his mistress in order to buy her mother and father as well. She had to agree so they could stay together as a family. Her father arrived in China, but soon died from colon cancer. Yeonmi had no one to turn to for comfort and had to bury his ashes at 3 a.m. without the presence of friends and family as she could not call anyone to let them know about her father’s death.
Escaping China
Yeonmi and her mother crossed the Gobi Desert during a cold night with five people. It was minus-40 degrees and she was only 15 years old. Although the conditions for crossing the desert were not favorable, the cover of the night gave them a chance for safer passage. They first used a compass, but later on they used stars to guide them to freedom.
People like Yeonmi Park on Twitter, who are not afraid to tell their life stories are a huge step forward towards progress. Dying for food and freedom in North Korea happens too often and young Yeonmi is a voice that might help that to stop. She now lives and studies in Seoul, South Korea traveling the world in order to raise awareness and fight the repressive regime of her former country North Korea.