There are few people who can face such adversity in life and rise above the mess and come out intact. Yeonmi Park is one of the few people who faced a life or death situation at the hands of human trafficking. Yet, at the young age of 14, she escaped through a desert in the dark of night. What gives a young girl such a determination and a will to live? How could she survive being beaten, raped and watched her mother be tortured and still come out of it living a normal life? She rose above her adversity by empowering others. She doesn’t sit idly by and let the crimes of the North Korean regime or their threats stop her from telling her story.
Her new book, “In Order to Live,” has just been released. Life is very difficult for people in North Korea, and this was the place where Park was born. When her father was arrested, life as she knew it came to a complete stop. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison. He was a civil servant, but he was also in the business of illegal trade and selling metals across the border into China. His sales of gold, silver and nickel got him classified as a criminal in prison. However, the family on the outside walls was also categorized as a felonious too. The next three generations is marked when someone goes to prison in that country. Her mother was interrogated and taken away for three years and Park had to live with her sister. At the age of 9 and 11, Park and her sister survived by living in the mountains and eating grass and flowers for their food.
Her mother was released and soon after that her father as well. He bribed himself out of prison. Her father was very sick and had colon cancer. Park was in the hospital having an emergency appendectomy and her sister went missing. She left with a friend to try to escape the harsh regime of the country. When Park was well, she and her mother went to look for her. To get to China, they had to cross three mountain ranges and a frozen river. They stumbled on an ethnic career man who said that he had in fact seen her sister, but he couldn’t tell her where he was. At that point, they wanted to return, but the man warned them that they would be arrested if they attempted to go back.
This man was in the underworld and involved in the human trafficking market. He wanted to rape Park, but her mother offered herself in exchange. The man threatened them and said if they didn’t cooperate that he would call the police. This started their journey into the world of sex trafficking and the journey was a nightmare. Her book is going to be a bestseller for sure, as anyone who has overcome such adversity and lives to tell about it is a hero.