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In Order to Live - Book Talk

Human rights activist Park, who fled North Korea with her mother in 2007 at age 13 and eventually made it to South Korea two years later after a harrowing ordeal, recognized that in order to be "completely free," she had to confront the truth of her past. It is an ugly, shameful story of being sold with her mother into slave marriages by Chinese brokers, and although she at first tried to hide the painful details when blending into South Korean society, she realized how her survival story could inspire others. Moreover, her sister had also escaped earlier and had vanished into China for years, prompting the author to go public with her story in the hope of finding her sister.

Book Talk

God, this is such a powerful story. It's hard to swallow, hard to believe that in our world today that a place like North Korea exists but it does as Yeonmi's story shows all the horrid details.

Yeonmi and her family had a wild ride. They went from being okay by North Korean standards to being so hungry they'd cook and eat dragonflies after their father was sent to a prison camp. School was nothing more than brainwashing to love the "Dear Leader" and hate the "American Bastards". There was no word for love in North Korea. Electricity was something that only came on once a day if they were lucky and not for long at all. Most of the time it wasn't even strong so the lights were still very dim.

They were taught to believe that the ruling family is gods. Poor Yeonmi thought he had superpowers and could read her mind. She was so scared to even think badly about her homeland.

After much hardship, she and her mother were able to get to China. Where her mother was raped to save her from the broker. Then not much later... her mother was raped in front of her. Yeonmi was forced to work with a man to help traffic other young girls from North Korea to stay alive. He raped her too. She was able to get her father out of North Korea but only for him to die of cancer not long after.

There is much that Yeonmi went through went that I won't mention because I really think everyone needs to read this book. If you ever think the country you live in is awful: it can't be as bad as North Korea and those people that suffer every single day.

Eventually, Yeonmi was one of the lucky ones that escaped with her mother, and later her elder sister was recused. Sadly, most stories do not end that way. North Korea hates letting go of even one of its citizens.

This story really had me wanting to smack myself for some of the ways I've acted in the past. Or when I get upset with America. Sure, this country isn't perfect but compared to North Korea, this place is rather remarkable. My greatest hope is that one day, everyone can be free. Until then, I'm so thankful to be born into a country that allows me freedom.

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