At the age of thirteen, Yeonmi Park and her mother decided to escape North Korea into China via the black market. During an interview on NY Times, Yeonmi Park recounts this story. She says “freedom” was never something she thought of, and actually was a term she had never heard of. This led her and her mother to fall into the hands of a human trafficker, and each were sold once they crossed into China.
They had no other option, Park said, their choice was be sold or go back and face the consequences in North Korea. At thirteen, Yeonmi accepted an offer to be a mistress in order to have her mother and father brought to her. Unfortunately, her father passed away in China due to untreated cancer. After two years of hiding in China, the man that bought Yeonmi, set her and her mother free. From there, they met up with Christian Missionaries and were set on the path to Mongolia, in hopes that it would lead them to South Korea, and ultimately freedom. Crossing the Gobi Dessert was no walk in the park, and she reflects on how it was “as if the universe had abandoned them”.
Through begging and months in an encampment, eventually threats of suicide caused the Mongolians to fly the two to South Korea. Living in South Korea was like a “movie” because the things Yeonmi saw in the advertisements in North Korea were true – not just a NK News propaganda as was the rest of the media. Towards the end, Park was asked if she was ready to face the challenges from the North Korean government discrediting her story and claims. She says, “I don’t know how much they can be credited. I know the truth of North Korea, the oppression and their tragedy. It cannot be silenced.” To hear the rest of this story, check out the full interview at https://reason.com/blog/2015/11/15/yeonmi-parks-north-korean-defector-story.