Yeonmi Park: “Kim Jong-Un is Not a Joke” “
Kim Jong-Un, this man he is not a joke,” a tearful Yeonmi Park said during her NK News interview. “We have paradise here. This is heaven while he’s killing 25 million there.” Twenty-three-year-old Yeonmi Park escaped from North Korea when she was just thirteen years old. Her mother paid smugglers to guide them through the cold dark of night and across treacherous terrain that could have easily claimed their lives. Fleeing from the harsh rule of King Jong-Un was all that was on her mother’s mind. Yeonmi witnessed great atrocities in North Korea. She witnessed the execution of a family friend accused of watching an American-made film. Her father, a civil servant, was in prison when Yeonmi and her mother began their trek to China. He had been arrested for smuggling metal, the profits of which he saved to hire smugglers to guide his family safely out of the country. Yeonmi’s family faced starvation in her father’s absence and she, along with her mother, hired smugglers to guide them out of the country. They believed that their new lives would begin in China, but Yeonmi and her mother were faced with even more terror. Yeonmi watched as her mother was raped. She and her mother were sold into slavery. Yeonmi was kept her mother, and they were later freed. The dream of freedom was still on their minds as they began to make their way from China and through Mongolia in an attempt to reach South Korea. Yeonmi and her mother arrived in South Korea. They were unaccustomed to the freedom and had difficulty adjusting. “My father never knew this kind of democracy existed,” Yeonmi said. “There are so many things that ‘do not exist’ in North Korea. We do not have words for stress and trauma. We do not have counselors for these things. Just to have food is the happiest thing ever for me.” Yeonmi enrolled in college where she studied criminal justice. She has become a human rights activist and is an avid public speaker. Yeonmi also penned a memoir of her ordeal, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom.