Yeonmi Park is a renowned North Korea human rights activist, public speaker, author and defector. Born on October 4, 1993 in Hyesan, North Korea Yeon-mi Park escaped from North Korea through China in 2007, before settling in the neighboring South Korea two years later. Park was only 13 years old at the time of escape. Although Park was brought up in a well-educated and politically connected family, the family’s fortunes later took a nose dive. In the process of trying to fend for his family, Park’s father was convicted to hard labor for smuggling metals to China. In their gripping journey to escape repression through China, Park and her mother fell into the shackles of human traffickers.
The journey to China and Mongolia was followed by a tearful reunion between the mother, daughter and father. Park gained global recognition after she delivered a speech at the 2014 One Young World Summit held in Dublin, Ireland. The One Young World summit is an annual event that attracts young people from around the world. The event hopes to illuminate and develop solutions to common world issues. In her speech, Park recounted her experience of escaping from North Korea. On 28 October 2014, Yeon-mi Park again spoke to the BBC in an interview where she detailed her gripping experience of violence and starvation in the north. She specifically expressed how she witnessed bloody executions and experience of being forced to eat insects and grass to survive.
The other meetings Park has spoken include youngvoicesadvocates, theTEDx event held in Bath, the Oslo Freedom Forum and more recently, the 2015 Women in World Summit hosted in London on 8th to 9th October. Yeon-mi Park’s view about the Kin’s Dynasty took an about turn after she watched a pirated DVD of the 1997 blockbuster, Titanic. The video taught her the true meaning of love and freedom, which was a stark reminder to the brutal oppression, she and her family witnessed in North Korea. The relationship between Yeon-mi Park and the North Korean establishment has been nothing but edgy ever since the soft-spoken human rights activist began championing for the rights of his people. On 31 January 2015, the Guardian reported that a North Korean Government operated website ran an 18-minute video clip denouncing the 21-year old defector.
The video titled “The Human Rights Propaganda Puppet” is one in a series of recent smear campaigns the North Korean government has released to try to silence the charismatic government critic. On September 29, 2015 Park published her globally acclaimed memoir titled “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom”. Park’s years as an ardent critic of the repressive North Korean regime, has also seen her champion various causes as an activist. The organizations she has joined include the Freedom Factory Corporation and Liberty in North Korea (LiNK). Yeon-mi Park continuous to travel around the world, raising awareness about the repressive regime of North Korea and the suffering of its citizens.