Yeonmi Park’s Journey to Freedom

Yeonmi Park is a high-profile human rights activist. Yeonmi is determined to shed light on her experiences in one of the oppressive countries of the world, North Korea. Being brought up in the brutal and paranoid atmosphere of the Kim dictatorship, she experienced violence and starvation but through sheer luck braved the frontier guards and fled to china with her mother. Her solid determination to tell her harrowing stories explains the devastating experience she had in North Korea and her epic escape.
Park Yeonmi was born on 4th, October 1993 in Hyesan, North Korea. Her father was a civil servant. He worked at Hyesan Town Hall and her mother was a nurse of the North Korean Army. Her father established a metal smuggling operation at Pyongyang and was later imprisoned for allegedly engaging in illegal business. Her family was wealthy by the North Korean standards. After the arrest of her father, Yeonmi, her mother and sister faced economic hardships.
Escape from North Korea
Park’s view of the Kim Dynasty changed after watching a pirated DVD movie Titanic, which opened her eyes to the oppressive nature of the North Korean Government and she yearned for freedom. After reuniting with his family in 2007, Yeonmi’s father urged the family to plan their escape to China. With the help of brokers who smuggle North Koreans into China, Park’s family escaped to China and was relocated to Mongolia by the Chinese and Korean Christian missionaries.
Currently, Yeonmi’s story on has been published in a number of newspapers and appears on several TV shows in South Korea and China. She paints a grim portrait of the repressive North Korean Regime. Yeonmi’s father succumbed to inoperable colon cancer in 2007 and they buried him near a mountain in China. She gives a clear picture of how she was exposed to human trafficking around Northern China by gangsters, forced marriage and prostitution. Later, she reunited with her mother and crossed Gobi desert to South Korea.
Yeonmi Park and her mother had difficulties adjusting to the new life in South Korea but they managed to secure jobs and survived. She even was able to resume her studies and enrolled in Dongguk University, Seoul where she is studying criminal justice. She is a volunteer with NAUH (Now, Action, Unity and Human Rights) and the volunteer Ambassador of Teach North Koreans Refugees Program. Park is also a member of LINK (Liberty in North Korea), a nonprofit organization that rescues North Korean Refugees and resettles them to South Korea and the United States.
Park has given a gripping account of fleeing North Korea at popular events like TEDx in Bath and other forums in Oslo and Dublin. She has been published in several newspapers including the Washington Post and has been featured on Voice of America, BBC2, SBS and Radio Free Asia. Yeonmi is a regular guest on a South Korean TV variety show called My Way To Meet You, a media fellow of a Freedom Factory Co. Ltd, and a co-host of the English language TV podcast Casey Lartigue and Yeonmi Show.