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Yeonmi Park is a North Korean defector and human rights activistwho escaped to China in 2007 and settled in South Korea in 2009. She came from an educated, politically connected family that turned to black market trading during North Korea's economic collapse in the 1990s. After her father was sent to a labor camp for smuggling, her family faced starvation. They fled to China, where Yeonmi and her mother fell into the hands of human traffickers before escaping to Mongolia. She now advocates for victims of trafficking and works to promote human rights in North Korea and around the globe.
Author photo © Beowulf Sheehan
Europe is currently dealing with an unprecedented flow of human beings escaping conflict, hunger and political injustice. In Asia there is another flow of refugees undertaking an even deadlier journey from North Korea via China and Mongolia to reach the South - and freedom. It's an unsparing account of her North Korean life, escape with her mother across the river to China only to be faced with assault and rape with a price on their head as valuable merchandise in a country with a shortage of marriagable women. This book is Yeonmi Parks's own story but it also shows us the personal suffering that refugees face and, especially for North Koreans, the education needed to cope with life on the other side of the divide. One of the many dreadful images the book left me is beleagured North Korean medics and teachers bribing their patients in order that they might eat, images far indeed from the golden dawn of the North Korean wonderland. Like for Like ReadingNothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea, Barbara DemickHuman Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees, Caroline Moorehead
Europe is currently dealing with an unprecedented flow of human beings escaping conflict, hunger and political injustice. In Asia there is another flow of refugees undertaking an even deadlier journey from North Korea via China and Mongolia to reach the South - and freedom. It's an unsparing account of her North Korean life, escape with her mother across the river to China only to be faced with assault and rape with a price on their head as valuable merchandise in a country with a shortage of marriagable women. This book is Yeonmi Parks's own story but it also shows us the personal suffering that refugees face and, especially for North Koreans, the education needed to cope with life on the other side of the divide. One of the many dreadful images the book left me is beleagured North Korean medics and teachers bribing their patients in order that they might eat, images far indeed from the golden dawn of the North Korean wonderland. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like ReadingNothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea, Barbara DemickHuman Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees, Caroline Moorehead
Yeonmi Park no sonaba con la libertad cuando escapo de Corea del Norte. Ni siquiera sabia que significaba ser libre. Lo unico que sabia era que huia para salvar la vida, que si su familia y ella seguian alli moririan: por el hambre, las enfermedades o incluso ejecutados. "e;Escapar para vivir"e; es el relato de la lucha de Park por subsistir en el pas ms enigmtico y represivo del mundo; su angustiosa huida hacia Corea del Sur a travs del submundo de contrabandistas y tratantes de seres humanos de China; y su transformacin en una destacada activista pro derechos humanos todo ello antes de cumplir veintin aos. Hoy en da, Park es una lder influyente para las generaciones ms jvenes de disidentes coreanos y ha obtenido reconocimiento internacionalmente como defensora de los derechos humanos en todo el mundo. En resumidas cuentas, "e;Escapar para vivir"e; trata de la resiliencia del espritu humano y el extraordinario poder del amor para vencer los horrores ms espantosos y las circunstancias ms desesperadas. "e;Tuve que aprender a amar a los dems"e;, dice Yeonmi Park. "e;Y ahora estoy dispuesta a morir por ellos."e;
Yeonmi Park a crescut crezand ca e normal sa vada cadavre in drum spre scoala si sa fie atat de flamanda, incat sa manance plante salbatice. A fost invatata sa nu-si exprime niciodata parerile si i s-a spus ca Iubitul Conducator"e; poate sa-i citeasca gandurile si sa o pedepseasca pentru ele. La varsta de 13 ani, dupa ce tatal ei a fost condamnat la munca silnica, Yeonmi si familia ei au luat decizia disperata de a fugi din Coreea de Nord traversand fluviul inghetat Yalu in China, unde au cazut insa in mainile traficantilor de persoane. Dupa aproape doi ani de captivitate intr-o lume la fel de brutala si de periculoasa ca aceea pe care o parasisera, Yeonmi si mama ei si-au riscat din nou viata, strabatand desertul Gobi si orientandu-se dupa stele in drumul lor spre libertate. Yeonmi Park isi spune pentru prima oara povestea uluitoare, cu demnitate, curaj si uneori cu umor. Drumul catre libertate e o marturie despre forta spiritului uman si despre riscurile pe care suntem dispusi sa ni le asumam ca sa fim liberi.
';I am most grateful for two things: that I was born in North Korea, and that I escaped from North Korea.'Yeonmi Park has told the harrowing story of her escape from North Korea as a child many times, but never before has she revealed the most intimate and devastating details of the repressive society she was raised in and the enormous price she paid to escape. Park's family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically medieval. Park would regularly go without food and was made to believe that, Kim Jong Il, the country's dictator, could read her mind. After her father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black-market, a risk he took in order to provide for his wife and two young daughters, Yeonmi and her family were branded as criminals and forced to the cruel margins of North Korean society. With thirteen-year-old Park suffering from a botched appendectomy and weighing a mere sixty pounds, she and her mother were smuggled across the border into China.I wasn't dreaming of freedom when I escaped from North Korea. I didn't even know what it meant to be free. All I knew was that if my family stayed behind, we would probably diefrom starvation, from disease, from the inhuman conditions of a prison labor camp. The hunger had become unbearable; I was willing to risk my life for the promise of a bowl of rice. But there was more to our journey than our own survival. My mother and I were searching for my older sister, Eunmi, who had left for China a few days earlier and had not been heard from since. Park knew the journey would be difficult, but could not have imagined the extent of the hardship to come. Those years in China cost Park her childhood, and nearly her life. By the time she and her mother made their way to South Korea two years later, her father was dead and her sister was still missing. Before now, only her mother knew what really happened between the time they crossed the Yalu river into China and when they followed the stars through the frigid Gobi Desert to freedom. As she writes, ';I convinced myself that a lot of what I had experienced never happened. I taught myself to forget the rest.' In In Order to Live, Park shines a light not just into the darkest corners of life in North Korea, describing the deprivation and deception she endured and which millions of North Korean people continue to endure to this day, but also onto her own most painful and difficult memories. She tells with bravery and dignity for the first time the story of how she and her mother were betrayed and sold into sexual slavery in China and forced to suffer terrible psychological and physical hardship before they finally made their way to Seoul, South Koreaand to freedom. Still in her early twenties, Yeonmi Park has lived through experiences that few people of any age will ever knowand most people would never recover from. Park confronts her past with a startling resilience, refusing to be defeated or defined by the circumstances of her former life in North Korea and China. In spite of everything, she has never stopped being proud of where she is from, and never stopped striving for a better life. Indeed, today she is a human rights activist working determinedly to bring attention to the oppression taking place in her home country. Park's testimony is rare, edifying, and terribly important, and the story she tells in In Order to Live is heartbreaking and unimaginable, but never without hope. Her voice is riveting and dignified. This is the human spirit at its most indomitable.