Yeonmi Park; A Voice For The Voiceless

The world is full of extraordinary people. Many have earned their place as universally known individuals who’ve overcome the odds to achieve something great. Others have done the same, only they’ve flown under the radar. One such individual is Yeonmi Park.

Who is Yeonmi Park? She is a 23 year-old North Korean defector and human rights activists that escaped from North Korea in the year 2007. Her story is one of both tragedy and triumph, and has been described in full in her 2015 book “In Order to Live”. Park’s experiences both growing up in and escaping her home country are a testament to the strength and spirit that lies within each and every one of us. To read her book is to grow up with her, witness alongside her the harsh reality of life in North Korea, and ultimately, to escape with her.

From an early age she was forced to fight for her life. From spending the long and cold winter in an unheated home alone with her sister, to scavenging a forest for roots to eat during the years of famine in North Korea, life has never been easy for her. As a little girl, she lost loved ones, lost friends, and even saw her own father arrested and jailed. Imprisoned in her own country, and force-fed the North Korean government’s endless propaganda on a daily basis, she refused to give up hope that one day she and her family would be free to do as they please, say what they want, and go wherever they desired. They would eventually achieve this, but at a great price.

Park’s escape from North Korea comes down to the simple act of never giving up. Even at her lowest moments, she showed great strength and motivation to push through and make the best of the situation at hand. Today she is a human rights activist working to bring to the world’s attention the atrocities that the North Korean government is still committing to this day. She works to empower those who feel they’ve been let down and left behind by the world, and to inspire those people to achieve what they want out of life.

Empathy can sometimes be in short supply, but reading “In Order to Live” will undoubtedly have you putting yourself in Park’s shoes, and imagining what it would be like to grow up in a country like North Korea. It will inspire you to see life as she sees it and tackle problems as she does. Park is, and will continue to be, a voice for the voiceless, a fighter for the powerless, and an inspiration to all who hear her story. At only 23 years of age, she has been through a lifetime of hardship, and overcome things that most of us will never experience. Only time will tell what the future holds for her, but whatever it is, it will surely be a significant help in guiding the human race in the right direction.


Author: Michael Arteaga


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