Yeonmi Park has seen one of the most guarded, secret and vicious places in the World, and has escaped to tell her story. She grew up in North Korea and is one of the few, very fortunate people that have managed to escape. However, her road to freedom was not something that was easy, and in fact, she states in her Amazon released book that she did not even have any conception of the word freedom. She also said in a NY Times interview that she did not attempt to escape the clutches of North Korea for freedom, but that she simply wanted a bowl of rice to eat. For her and her family, escaping the country was merely about survival, and they really did not even know what freedom was.
Yeonmi ended up fleeing across the border with her mother, assisted by a man that ended up selling them into human trafficking. What they thought was an honest person that was trying to help them flee the country turned out to be someone that was trying to profit from the human trafficking trade. However, they did make it into China, only to be sold to a Chinese man. After living for several years with this man, and after Yeonmi agreed to become his partner, Yeonmi and her mother decided that they needed to get to South Korea, which they did by going to Mongolia. In the middle of the night, they crossed a vast desert and were finally captured by Mongolian police, who told them that they were going to be taken back to China.
Yeonmi and her mother were prepared to die that night and told the police that they would kill themselves if they had to go back to China, as they would likely be deported back to North Korea from China. This would lead to their deaths or lifetime imprisonment. In the end, they managed to convince the Mongolians to let them stay and eventually they got on a plane to South Korea. Yeonmi Park‘s story is truly one of the most remarkable defector stories and is an incredible look at one of the most violent and dangerous places on the globe, North Korea.