This first thread I made was about Miss Park detailing her escape from N. Korea. This time, Yeonmi goes into detail about what her life was like growing up under that dictatorship, and the mindset they are forced to adopt.
YouTube : Yeonmi Park Interview
Park grew up in the brutal and repressive North Korea as a child of privilege until her father was arrested for sending metals to China. He was sent to a labor camp — and Park and her mother set off on a long journey to freedom away from the oppressive regime. Park painted a grim portrait of life as a child in North Korea. “One of my earlier memories was my mom telling me not to even whisper, because the birds and mice can hear my whisper,” she said. “I was so surprised in the West to see parents encourage their children to express their feelings. I had to learn at that young of an age not to.”
There are few countries as secretive and mysterious as North Korea, but what is known about the hermit kingdom is disturbing: 24 million people live in enforced poverty under an Orwellian strategy overseen by 32-year-old dictator Kim Jong Un.
The dictatorship extends to every facet of their lives. During her lessons in school, Park learned math problems like, “There are 10 Americans, and if you kill five of them, how many are left?” she recalled. “They told us that the rest of the world are impure and disgusting and it’s a dangerous place, and we have nothing to envy outside of the world, that our country was the best.”
As Park remembers, “In North Korea, everything is not free. Guards are telling us what to do and what to watch. We cannot think for ourselves and we are put into strict classes. My father became a prisoner, and I was a prisoner’s daughter and therefore didn’t have a future.”
In 2007, at age 13, Park fled from the isolated nation. There are guards positioned on the borders of China ordered to shoot anyone seen fleeing on sight, and Park and her mother knew someone who helped them across the river. But that was only the beginning.
While in China, when a man threatened to rape Yeonmi, her mother refused to allow it, and she was raped instead to protect her daughter. They were both sold into human trafficking. “I never knew what human trafficking was, and I couldn’t imagine how people could sell other people. I couldn’t not believe they were negotiating price before my eyes,” said Park. “The man who bought me said if I became his mistress, he would buy my mother and my father. And so I became his mistress to see my mother and father again.” Once her father arrived in China, he was diagnosed and died from colon cancer. “I had to bury his ashes at 3 a.m. in the middle of the night,” she recalled. “There was nobody I could call and say my father had died. I still remember that cold night, sitting next to him.”
Park and her mother understood they needed to get out of China: “We wanted to live like human beings with dignity.” They crossed the Gobi Desert with five people on a cold night — “it was minus-40 degrees, she said, so no one would think that someone would cross the desert.” Park was then only 15 years old. “We followed a compass at first, and then we followed the stars to north and to freedom.”