Yeonmi Park is a human rights activist who escaped, at the age of 13, from North Korea to China in order to survive. A victim of the Kim Dynasty's famine, Park was trafficked in China, along with her mother. Her memoir, "In Order to Live," pulls no punches. She was born at a time when the North Korean government was losing its subsidies from Russia as communism collapsed. While her family lived well for a time due to her parents black market trading, eventually that ended when her father was thrown in a labor camp. His health was completely broken there, and he was unable to care for his family when he managed to get out early.
When Park and her mother were smuggled into China, her mother was raped by the human traffickers, and Park, at 13, was forced to become the mistress of another trafficker. After escaping to South Korea with the help of Christian missionaries, Park fought against the growing anti-North Korean defector sentiment in South Korea, against her own shame at what she was forced to do to survive, and against her own lack of education.
She is a remarkable young woman, so remarkable the North Korean regime has retaliated against her for exposing the true horrors in that concentration camp of a nation. Park's growing awareness of the need for critical thinking, as opposed to brainwashed regurgitation of another person's or regime's ideas, is truly awe inspiring. Her recognition that there is no "I" in North Korea, only "we," is something that individuals who have escaped cults have long understand. This is one of the first times that a survivor of North Korea has drawn that exact comparison. We will be hearing much more from Park. She is only in her early 20s, and she has already sent a repressive regime into apoplexy- imagine what else she has in store for this world. Five stars.
Print Length: 290 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press (September 29, 2015)
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC