I was on Facebook one day when I watched a video of Park Yeonmi’s speech at One Young World 2014 Summit where she told her story of her life in North Korea and how she and her mother escaped from North Korea to China, and finally settled down in South Korea.
Park Yeonmi has written a book called “In Order to Live: A North Korean’s Journey to Freedom” detailing her life in North Korea and her escape to China and finally to South Korea. I was intrigued and since I have made it my new year’s resolution to read 100 hundred books this year, I thought this book would make a great addition to my reading list.
North Korea is one of the last few communist countries where everything is state-controlled. I have watched a documentary on YouTube sometime last year where an American traveler who was granted permission to travel in North Korea secretly filmed his entire trip. Sure, everything about North Korea is about propaganda and they only show you what they want you to see, but that is how communism works. Although the people of North Korea does not have access to the outside world, at least they look decently dressed and well-nourished.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I was reading “In Order to Live: A North Korean’s Journey to Freedom”. North Korea is the exact duplicate of China during the Cultural Revolution. I was born in China, and although I was brought to Singapore since young, I have heard stories of the horror of the Cultural Revolution that killed millions of Chinese people. I can’t believe that these kind of things is still happening. North Korea has even taken it a step further by having their own calendar called Juche calendar that is based on Kim II-Sung’s birthday on 1912 and their own time zone known as Pyongyang Time!
This book is not only about the horrors of living in a communist country, it is also about the human spirit, courage and thirst for freedom. Yeonmi tells us about her escape from North Korea to China by crossing the frozen Yalu river, struggle to survive in China and nearly died while crossing the frigid Gobi desert to South Korea.
This is a wonderful book that makes me feel thankful for having as much food as I want, being able to live wherever I want, not having to live in fear everyday and many other things that I have taken granted.