In Order to Live: A Memoir of Survival and Freedom by Yeonmi Park - Get Your Epub Copy Here
In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park
In this article, I will review and summarize a remarkable memoir by Yeonmi Park, a young woman who escaped from North Korea and became a human rights activist. The book is called In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom, and it was published in 2015 by Penguin Press. It was co-written by Maryanne Vollers, a journalist and author.
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Who is Yeonmi Park?
Yeonmi Park was born in 1993 in Hyesan, a city near the border with China. She grew up in a relatively privileged family, as her father was a civil servant and a member of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. However, her life changed dramatically when her father was arrested for smuggling metals to China and sent to a labor camp. Her family faced starvation, discrimination, and violence under the oppressive regime of Kim Jong-il, the second leader of North Korea.
What is the book about?
The book is a candid and courageous account of Park's struggle to survive in the darkest, most repressive country on earth; her harrowing escape through China's underworld of smugglers and human traffickers; and then her escape from China across the Gobi desert to Mongolia, with only the stars to guide her way, and from there to South Korea and at last to freedom; and finally her transformation into a leading voice for human rights and democracy.
Why is the book important?
The book is important because it sheds light on the brutal realities of life in North Korea, a country that is often shrouded in secrecy and propaganda. It exposes the human rights violations, the brainwashing, the famine, the corruption, and the cruelty that millions of people endure under the dictatorship of Kim Jong-un, the third and current leader of North Korea. It also inspires hope and courage for those who seek freedom and dignity in the face of oppression and injustice. It shows that one person can make a difference by speaking out and sharing their story.
Summary of the book
Part One: Under the Same Starry Sky
This part covers Park's childhood and early adolescence in North Korea, from her birth until her escape with her mother in 2007.
Chapter 1: Even the Birds and Mice Can Hear You Whisper
Park introduces herself and her family, and describes the fear and paranoia that pervaded her society. She recalls how she was taught to worship Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, and Kim Jong-il, his son and successor, as gods. She also remembers how she witnessed a public execution of a man who was accused of watching a foreign movie when she was only nine years old.
Chapter 2: A Dangerous History
Park explains the history of Korea, from its division after World War II, to the Korean War, to the rise of the Kim dynasty. She also reveals how her maternal grandfather was a wealthy landowner who fled to South Korea during the war, and how her paternal grandfather was a communist guerrilla who fought against the Japanese occupation. She also learns that her father's side of the family had some Japanese ancestry, which made them targets of discrimination and suspicion.
Chapter 3: Swallows and Magpies
Park describes her happy childhood memories with her older sister Eunmi, who was her best friend and protector. She also tells how her father worked as a civil servant in the Bureau of Industry, which gave them access to some luxuries such as a TV, a refrigerator, and a car. She also shares how her mother was a devoted wife and mother who sacrificed everything for her family.
Chapter 4: Tears of Blood
Park recounts how her life changed drastically when her father was arrested for smuggling metals to China in 2002. He was sentenced to 17 years in a labor camp, where he suffered from torture, malnutrition, and disease. Her family lost their status, their home, and their belongings. They had to move to a shabby apartment in a poor neighborhood, where they faced hunger, cold, and humiliation.
Chapter 5: The Dear Leader
Park explains how Kim Jong-il ruled North Korea with an iron fist, controlling every aspect of people's lives. He imposed a cult of personality, a rigid social hierarchy, a strict censorship, and a brutal repression. He also isolated the country from the outside world, creating a propaganda machine that portrayed him as a benevolent father and a genius leader. He also caused a massive famine in the 1990s that killed millions of people.
Chapter 6: City of Dreams
Park narrates how she and her mother visited Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, in 2005. They were invited by Park's aunt, who worked as a nurse in a military hospital. They were amazed by the contrast between the modern and prosperous city and the rest of the country. They saw skyscrapers, monuments, statues, parks, shops, and restaurants. They also saw Kim Jong-il's palace, his mausoleum, and his giant portrait. They also witnessed a mass gymnastics performance that celebrated his birthday.
Chapter 7: The Darkest Nights
Park describes how she and her mother returned to Hyesan after their trip to Pyongyang. They found out that Eunmi had run away to China without telling them. They were devastated by her disappearance and worried about her fate. They also learned that Park's father had been released from the labor camp due to his poor health. He was dying from colon cancer and had only months to live. He reunited with his family and apologized for his mistakes.
Chapter 8: A Song for Chosun
Park recounts how she and her mother decided to escape from North Korea with the help of some brokers who promised to take them to China. They planned to find Eunmi there and then go to South Korea. They also hoped that Park's father could join them later if he recovered from his illness. They left their home on March 30, 2007, crossing the frozen Yalu River at night. They reached China safely but soon realized that they had fallen into a trap.
Part Two: The Black Market Generation
This part covers Park's ordeal in China, where she and her mother were sold into slavery and abused by various men.
Chapter 9: Jangmadang Generation
Park explains how she belonged to the jangmad 71b2f0854b