Yeonmi Park: A Survivor’s Story Under Fire

At age thirteen, Yeonmi Park, a refugee of the harsh North Korean regime, braved an escape to China. Once there, Yeonmi was sold into the sex trafficking trade. Despite her mmother’s attempt at protecting her, Yeonmi was passed around among gangs and frequently abused. After her eventual release, she and her mother crossed the Gobi Desert in search of peace and freedom. Yeonmi shared on The Guardin the chronicles of her journey in her book In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom. She studies criminal justice in South Korea and has spoken at the One Young World summit in Dublin and at the UN Human Rights session on North Korea. She works as an activist to spread her story and help prevent the same thing from happening to others. Now in her early twenties, Park has begun to face backlash in the wake of her published tale. Videos have been produced in North Korea attempting to discredit Park, and the book The Puppet of the Human Rights Plot seeks to do the same. It is not only from within Park’s former country that criticisms have arisen. Some doubters have labeled her a “celebrity defector” and pointed out inaccuracies in both her personal narrative and details surrounding descriptions of North Korea. Other visitors to the country reject her claims that there were dead bodies floating in the water, daily torture and abuse by the government on its citizens. Some of this propaganda stems from the very regime Park has escaped and exposed to the world. Additionally, Park admits  on The Reason she has changed names and altered some details to protect family members and lessen the shame she feels about her sexual abuse at such a young age. Park refutes these attacks on her credibility, stating that she knows the truth and is committed to sharing it.