March 31, 2007 marks the day a young girl and her mother began a journey very few people have the courage let their thoughts wander toward. Yeonmi Park defected from North Korea at the pivotal age of thirteen and her story proves that it takes a special kind of person to not only start writing such a harrowing tale, but to survive it and speak up about it afterward.
Arriving in China with only vague ideas of where her life was headed now, she thought she’d escaped the worst of what humanity had to offer. There was only partial truth in that because the next few years proved to be challenging in new ways, for the very man that helped them escape North Korea was the man that enslaved them.
It seemed that living a life in the underground left her as an easy target for abuse in addition to the starvation she faced. Yeonmi and her mother had both been trafficked, the girl herself sold for $260 to a man that kept her as a sex slave. The two were retained in the grime of the shadows until Yeonmi’s father, who had once been sentenced to seventeen years in a labor camp for smuggling metal in order to feed his starving family, crossed the Chinese border to join them. Unfortunately, he died of untreated colon cancer mere months later and didn’t get to see the end of their trek across the unforgiving Gobi Desert.
It was around this point that Yeonmi Park admitted to the Daily Mail UK, she began carrying a knife and resigned herself to suicide if either of them were ever to get caught in the clutches of more unsavory people, or, maybe even worse yet, if they faced the threat of repatriation.
Despite the small pool of nay-sayers, this Amazon best selling author holds steadfast to the truth of her own tale and is among the most prominent voices of the North Korean defectors speaking against the cruel regime today.