Author(s): Yeonmi Park
Yeonmi Park was not dreaming of freedom when she escaped from North Korea. She didn't even know what it meant to be free. All she knew was that she was running for her life, that if she and her family stayed behind they would die -- from starvation, or disease, or even execution.In Order to Live is the story of Park's struggle to survive in the darkest, most repressive country on earth; her harrowing escape to South Korea through China's underworld of smugglers and human traffickers; and her emergence as a leading human rights activist -- all before her twenty-first birthday.
~ This book is an incredibly eye opening memoir about a young woman, Yeonmi Park, who grew up in the poverty stricken city of Hyesan in North Korea and her journey to freedom.
Yeonmi is a wonderful, frank writer and despite its harrowing nature, the book was an inspiration, and very compelling. Yeonmi's description of life in North Korea is reminiscent of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, the level of control and fear the 'Dear Leader' inflicts upon his people, down to the smallest child, is appalling.
Yeonmi describes her education - children are indoctrinated from a young age to despise Americans (aka 'Yankee bastards') by using equations that kill them off to learn arithmetic, taught never to think for themselves, never question anything, never voice their own thoughts and to love and worship their Dear Leader. Yeonmi lives in an area without power (except for very rare occasions), and where starvation is an every day occurrence. One of the things she notices though is the connection and closeness she had with her family in a world without material/technological distractions, and the solidarity between neighbours in times of hardship. When she finally escapes North Korea to China with her mother, it is not freedom she gains. Instead, they are thrust into the brutal world of human trafficking, of which she herself becomes a part. The trauma this young woman goes through is heartbreaking, but eventually she manages to reach South Korea and over time learns that true liberty is more than just being physically free. Jemma
Clear-eyed and devastating. Observer One of the most harrowing stories I have ever heard - and one of the most inspiring ... A book to make you newly thankful for the freedom you have never been forced to fight for. The Bookseller An eloquent, wrenchingly honest work that vividly represents the plight of many North Koreans. Kirkus
Yeonmi Park was born in Hyesan, North Korea in 1993 and currently lives in New York.