Yeonmi Park: The Girl Who Escaped North Korea

Yeonmi Park was thirteen years old when she started her journey on March 31st,, 2007. She and her mother crossed the frozen Yalu River. They arrived in China, not really knowing what to do next. Yeonmi stated that before, she didn’t even know what freedom was. She was not familiar with the word and the concept behind it. To her, the thing that can make her happiest was having food.

What Happened

Yeonmi and her family got abused and starved after living outside of law. Her father tried to cross the border to join her and her mother, but he died of cancer a few months later. She said that she ate dragonflies, grasshoppers and flowers. In the brutal regime of Kim Jong-Il, people are starving. They eat whatever they can eat.

Her Journey

After they reached China, the man who wanted to help Yeonmi and her mother turned on them. He wanted to rape Yeonmi. However, her mother offered herself as a sacrifice. Yeonmi watched her mother being raped in front of her. Afterwards, her mother was sold to a bribe, but he kept Yeonmi. She stated that the man attempted to rape her several times, but she always fought back. In the end, he released her after he fell in love with her.

The Truth of Her Story

While some people doubt her story, Yeonmi insisted that her story her true. However, some details have been changed to protect her family members that are still living in North Korea. She said that she had a reason for hiding her secrets; she didn’t want to admit that she was raped when she was only thirteen. Some misstatements were caused by her poor English skills.


Yeonmi, the brave girl from North Korea has helped us to realize how brutal Kim Jong-Il’s regime is. Human rights is important to protect. Now, Yeonmi and her sister are activists on Youtube that are trying to raise awareness around the world about what is happening in North Korea.