Yeonmi Park: Human Rights Activist and North Korean Defector

Yeonmi Park is a 21-year-old woman who was born in Hyesan, North Korea. The country of North Korea, under leadership of the Kim Dynasty’s dictatorship, is known for its oppressive treatment of the citizens who live there. Park and her family are some of the few North Koreans who managed to successfully defect from the country and live to tell about it.

Yeonmi Park was born in 1993 to parents who were considered to be middle class civil servants in North Korea. In North Korea there were two main rules to follow, worship the leader Kim-Jong Il and to hate anyone who disagreed with the Dear Leader. Growing up, Yeonmi recalls having to be mindful of the things she said because no one could be trusted. If word got back to the government about a citizen thinking outside of the box, it is likely that they would be punished severely. Soon, Yeonmi Park on learned first hand how brutal those punishments could be.

He was tortured and starved at the camp, and soon realized that escaping the country would be the only way for his family to survive. The family made the tough decision that Yeonmi, her mother, and sister would be the first members to make the dangerous journey. Her family crossed the river and arrived in China, but they endured further suffering when they had to hide from Chinese authorities. Throughout the journey, Yeonmi’s sister was lost and feared dead. Her father caught up with the family however he passed away before the family made it to safety in South Korea. Yeonmi and her mother continued through Mongolia and reach the embassy for South Korea where they sought asylum. Five years later, Yeonmi and her mother were reunited with the sister that was feared dead.

Yeonmi is now thriving in South Korea. She resides in the capital city of Seoul where she is working on her memoirs, going to school for Criminal Justice, and fighting for the rights of others who were oppressed like her family was. She has made it her mission in life to travel the world to tell others about what really goes on in the secretive country. With Yeonmi being brave enough to speak out about the atrocities and the people that are suffering in North Korea, it is creating a grassroots movement that many are hoping will lead to positive progress in the nation. Yeonmi Park is known as a Human Rights advocate and will continue to work to bridge the gap between North and South Korea.