Yeonmi Park, a young human rights activist, tells the harrowing story of her incredible escape from North Korea in her new book In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom. It is a story she has briefed to the world before, but in this detailed compilation, Yeonmi reveals a most heartbreaking reality.
From a young age, she was taught to believe that the “Dear Leader” of North Korea could hear her every thought. Growing up in a repressive society where Yeonmi Park’s clothes were chosen for her and she was told what songs to sing makes thinking for herself a challenge, even today. In her book, Yeonmi discusses the sacrifices her and her family had to make in order to escape such a perilous existence.
Though her family was well educated and connected politically on theguardian.com, the collapse of the North Korean economy in the 1990’s forced Yeonmi’s father to turn to the Black Market in order for him to provide for his family. Unfortunately, his actions were discovered by the North Korean government, resulting in his sentencing to a labor camp. Without a provider, Yeonmi, her sister, and mother faced starvation.
At only 13, Yeonmi Park on caseyandyeonmi and her mother were smuggled across the border into China where they tragically met the horrors of human trafficking. One man promised Yeonmi he would buy her parents back under the condition that she become his mistress, an offer she accepted to save her family. After her father died of colon cancer when she was just 15 years old, Yeonmi Park and her mother decided to search for asylum in Seoul. Hidden by the veil of the night, they followed the North Star through the frigid Gobi Dessert.
In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom creates a window that allows readers to peer into a world they could never imagine, raising awareness to the tragedies at hand. Yet, even living through these experiences, Yeonmi remains hopeful and continues to fight for her people’s freedom.
It is imperative to note that human rights activists are people who harbor the interests of the populace before their own. These activists believe that human rights are geared towards ensuring equality and fairness prevails in the society. The functions of the human right activists are to promote and protect the civil and political rights of individuals. Human rights concerns vary from one country to another. Some of the concerns include female genital mutilation, access to better health care, discrimination, forced evictions and employment concerns among other issues concerning the public.
Human rights activists are active in different parts of the globe. They usually seek to protect and promote human rights irrespective of the challenges they face in their pursuit of realizing human rights are respected. Most of the activists undertake their duties at the local and national levels by showing support for the respect towards human right activities happening within their communities. Local activists have an impact on the immediate community, as they are able to mingle with members of the society and figure out where problems of human rights are worse.
These activists have the responsibility of relaying accurate information to the public. To this end, they have to ensure that they gather information from diverse sources. They have to report on areas where there are human rights violations. Most times, the human rights activists lobby strategies that can make the public attentive to gross violations of human rights regulations. It is a good gesture for human rights activists to support victims of human rights violations. To this end, the activists may assist victims by taking their cases before the courts of law or even prevent a repeat violation of their human rights. Some activists are lawyers who provide professional legal advice to the victims of such violations. The victims should also be provided with counseling services and rehabilitation support.
Some of the human rights activists have been on the forefront of ensuring that the government fulfills its manifestos regarding human rights obligations. The activists pursue courses that secure accountability while at the same time ending impunity.
The life of Yeonmi Park on youtube is a true testimony of how people living in North Korea have a secretive lifestyle. Yeonmi has been invited to different forums to make her speech. Her escape from the country saw her realize the immense freedom in other parts of the globe. She did not know what freedom was until she watched a smuggled movie known as Titanic. She believes that there is still hope for freedom in North Korea. Yeonmi Park keeps on praying that the world does not forget the suffering of the North Korean families. The black market generation has been exposed to the western media and grass root capitalism will eventually erode the authority of Kim’s regime.
Yeonmi’s escape together with her family to China is proof enough that people in North Korea are taught on what to see, think and even feel. She always quotes reverend Martin Luther King Junior, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”