Reason.com has an article on their website about human rights activist Yeonmi Park. The article details Park’s rise to fame and influence as a North Korean defector who raises awareness about the terrible conditions ordinary people in North Korea have to live in and the attempts of the North Korean government to discredit her.
When Park was very young, her family enjoyed a relatively privileged life in North Korea because her father was connected with powerful people in the government, but when he fell out of favor all that changed, and Park was literally starving to death. She even ate grass off of the ground to try and survive.
Park escaped from North Korea in 2007 when she was 13 years old. She and her mother crossed a frozen river at night into China, risking death both from falling through the ice and from North Korean soldiers. Park endured terrible abuse – some sexual – as she wandered across China as an illegal immigrant, entered Mongolia, and ultimately was able to reach South Korea and began to speak out about the brutality of the North Korean regime.
In telling her story, Park has emphasized that she loves her native country, just not its government, and that she never would have left if she hadn’t been forced to out of desperation. She talks on The Reason about how she could have easily survived in North Korea just on items that people in the developed world throw away into the trash.
Attempts to Discredit
Park’s dramatic life story, as well as her poise and eloquence in interviews, have made her one of the leading symbols of the movement to bring better lives to people in North Korea. However, with this fame have come attempts to discredit her. The North Korean Government has made a long video full of details of what, it says, are inaccuracies in her account. None of these accusations have really stuck says the NY Times, though, and Park remains a highly credible and extremely effective activist.