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In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom

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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 a 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.


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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 a 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.

30 review for In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    I don't think any review I write for this book can do it justice. It's a truly remarkable story, but more than that, it shows a truly remarkable young woman who is resilient and hopeful even in the bleakest of moments. It's the epitome of inspiration, and I wish every single person would read this book and be inspired by it. I don't think any review I write for this book can do it justice. It's a truly remarkable story, but more than that, it shows a truly remarkable young woman who is resilient and hopeful even in the bleakest of moments. It's the epitome of inspiration, and I wish every single person would read this book and be inspired by it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Petrik

    Some of you will probably skip reading this review since it’s a memoir and most of my friends and followers, like me are lovers of fantasy & fiction books. Believe me, memoirs or any kind of non-fiction books is a genre I avoid the most. However, after watching Yeonmi Park’s viral video on YouTube back in 2014, I was so moved and when I found out there’s a book based on her life since her birth until her escape from North Korea, I bought it straight the next day. If you decided to not read this Some of you will probably skip reading this review since it’s a memoir and most of my friends and followers, like me are lovers of fantasy & fiction books. Believe me, memoirs or any kind of non-fiction books is a genre I avoid the most. However, after watching Yeonmi Park’s viral video on YouTube back in 2014, I was so moved and when I found out there’s a book based on her life since her birth until her escape from North Korea, I bought it straight the next day. If you decided to not read this review at all, it’s completely okay but please at least watch this video. It’s only 8 minutes long and will shed a light on how dark North Korea is. It’s not an exaggeration when people say South Korea & North Korea is Heaven & Hell on Earth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufhKW... That said, I’m going to say this is a book that everyone in this world must read. No one, and I seriously mean this, nobody in this world should ever experience the shits that Yeonmi and her family go through to achieve their freedom. These days, a lot of people said North Korea is just a repressive country ruled by a fat dude with bad haircut and threaten to launch nuclear every year as if it’s an anniversary event. They joke and make memes about it while in truth, North Korea is a dystopian country with extreme Totalitarianism. If any of you read the book “Animal Farm” or “1984” by George Orwell, this is the reality manifestation of those book. Big Brother? It’s there, doublethink? it’s there, Thought Police? it’s all there in that country with different names. “In North Korea, even arithmetic is a propaganda tool. A typical problem would go like this: “If you kill one American bastard and your comrade kills two, how many dead American bastards do you have?” Yeonmi, being only 4 years younger than me (she’s 23 currently) had faced brutal hardships to get through to where she is now. It’s truly a wonder she could smile the way she does now. At times while I'm reading, I forgot that I’m reading a non-fiction book because it was so fucked up, especially what she went through when she’s 13-15 years old. This story is as real as it gets, it happened and it's still happening to countless people who tried to escape from North Korea. The least we can do is to be aware of this situation. Yeonmi wrote this book with the purpose that more people will listen to her story and know the reality that resides in North Korea even though this means putting her life in danger as she's now being branded as a public enemy to the whole country where she's born. At the same time she's also letting us know that in the darkest situation, there’s always hope to be found. I listened to her story, I'm inspired and I cared. If somehow my review could reach just one more person to know her story then I’ll be satisfied. Doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of fantasy, sci-fi, romance, YA, or any other genre, this is a book that everyone must read. Rant section: I lowered the score of this book because sometimes I feel the writings are too simple, there's some typos and they made me feel detached. However, I’m seriously disappointed with those who lowered their score because of the reason saying her stories are fakes and fabrications. Seriously what is the matter with you? Look, her details can be wrong sometimes, she's diagnosed with PTSD and depression after everything she went through. The book itself could be mistranslated but really, I challenge you to try remembering every detail of your life since your birth until now, let’s see if you get them right 100%. Heck, I can’t even remember a lot of things from my childhood until middle school. I have a friend who experienced one harsh thing that happened to Yeonmi (view spoiler)[she was raped (hide spoiler)] and trust me, asking her to remember that detail over and over again is like putting a knife in her heart and brain repeatedly. Doing this is like saying she’s the biggest liar of the world, if we won’t trust her story then who will?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    4.5 stars everything hurts and i'm crying This book just makes you take 10 seats. It's a story I can't even fathom being in. It's like an actual dystopia. Everything was so outrageous and haunting that it was almost unbelievable. What I found myself enjoying was not just Yeonmi finding physical freedom outside the borders of North Korea and the human trafficking industry, but the mental freedom of learning how to be opinionated and advocating for others' rights. This book is so touching, but so sa 4.5 stars everything hurts and i'm crying This book just makes you take 10 seats. It's a story I can't even fathom being in. It's like an actual dystopia. Everything was so outrageous and haunting that it was almost unbelievable. What I found myself enjoying was not just Yeonmi finding physical freedom outside the borders of North Korea and the human trafficking industry, but the mental freedom of learning how to be opinionated and advocating for others' rights. This book is so touching, but so sad. I took off half a star because although it was an interesting story, the writing wasn't particularly beautiful and flowing, it was just okay. Because of that, it took me a little bit longer to read because it takes longer to get into, but it's not like it's a major issue because after all, english is practically her third language.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Petra-X Off having adventures

    Education. Re-education and even more re-re-education. Or you could just call it programming or that nice, old-fashioned Cold War word, brainwashing. But who, in the end, is being brainwashed? It wouldn't be us now, would it? Yeomi Park is born into a subsistence-level existence in North Korea which is reduced to almost lower than that when her father, a smuggler of metals, is sent to a labour camp. When he is released, he is a broken man. "At three the following morning, Yeonmi and her mother to Education. Re-education and even more re-re-education. Or you could just call it programming or that nice, old-fashioned Cold War word, brainwashing. But who, in the end, is being brainwashed? It wouldn't be us now, would it? Yeomi Park is born into a subsistence-level existence in North Korea which is reduced to almost lower than that when her father, a smuggler of metals, is sent to a labour camp. When he is released, he is a broken man. "At three the following morning, Yeonmi and her mother took his remains to a nearby mountain and secretly buried them. ‘There was no funeral. Nothing,’ Yeonmi says. ‘I couldn’t even do that for my father. I couldn’t call anyone to say my father had passed away. He was 45 – really young. We couldn’t even give him painkillers." Eventually, with the 'help' of a trafficker, she and her mother cross to China where they are sold for the trafficker to recoup his costs. In another version, in an interview with a San Francisco radio station, Park says, "I escaped with my mum and father – the three of us.” Because of China's one-child policy there is a great shortage of women and there is no hope for many men ever to find a wife, so parents buy one for their son and this is what happened to the author's mother. She was treated like a slave and scarcely allowed to contact her daughter. This would make a very interesting book, the social and personal costs to China of this shortage of women. Societies of men without women are very Lord of the Flies I would imagine. (Not so much like monks in a monastery, rejoicing in the feminine absence). Yeonmi successfully fought off rape attempts but eventually gave in when the traffiker promised to buy back her mother and look for her family. He was true to his word and got himself sex with an unwilling 13 year old in return. They were both sold on again and became friends with another North Korean illegal immigrant and planned their escape. This part of the story is very harrowing but interesting. Finally they are almost in South Korea when they are found by Chinese and Korean missionaries who arranged for their passage and papers for South Korea, meanwhile thoroughly indoctrinating them into Christianity as part of their compulsory education-for-South Korea programme. South Korea in it's turn re-educated her into their ways. With the fervour of the newly-converted Yeonmi after several years adjusting to life in South Korea which seems to have some of the most racist people in the world living in it, went to Costa Rica, a missionary herself with an American group. It seems to me she was looking for a way into living in the US. Yeonmi Park is no stranger to the media. Seems to me that it wasn't long after Yeonmi Park got to South Korea, acquired a local, more acceptable accent and saw the Gangam style consumer culture and was driven by a desire for fame and money herself. She has marketed her story in a tv series in South Korea (in which she starred) as well as radio, the internet and now print to much success. Now she is living in New York (are you surprised?) America is the land of money, media and manipulation of how we should think of other cultures. This harrowing story by a very pretty young girl fits in well with the US constantly demonising North Korea. It might all be true, but maybe it's no more true about North Korea than it is about Cuba. I could give examples but read a very well-respected journalist's (Mary Ann Jolley's article in The Diplomat on all the discrepancies between the author's various retellings of her story. The rebuttal, quite obviously written by a PR professional to lessen the damage. There is one untruth in it though. Yeonmi Park's website that the she says wasn't meant to be live' had a PayPal donate button on it, that doesn't say 'not meant to' to me. So did Yeonmi Park grow up in a professional family having fun with other children and hopes of a university education or did she grow up eating beetles in the direst poverty where even being sold as a slave was better than the life she had? The truth is probably a mixture of the two. Only Yeonmi knows and it's not that she's not telling, she certainly is, but not necessarily the same story every time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    April (Aprilius Maximus)

    I honestly don't even know what to say. What can you possibly say after reading Yeonmi's story? Completely heartbreaking and horrific, yet inspiring all at once. Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge Notes: - 19. A non-fiction book I honestly don't even know what to say. What can you possibly say after reading Yeonmi's story? Completely heartbreaking and horrific, yet inspiring all at once. Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge Notes: - 19. A non-fiction book

  6. 5 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    This is one of the most important books I’ve read in my life! “In Order to Live” tells the true story of Yeonmi and her family growing up in the dictatorship of North Korea. Yeonmi is very honest from the beginning, and her story tells about the bravery she and her family had to have in order to escape North Korea and survive. I knew a little bit about North Korea beforehand, but this book was an eye-opener! Never have I imagined what the truth is actually like for North Korean people, and it wa This is one of the most important books I’ve read in my life! “In Order to Live” tells the true story of Yeonmi and her family growing up in the dictatorship of North Korea. Yeonmi is very honest from the beginning, and her story tells about the bravery she and her family had to have in order to escape North Korea and survive. I knew a little bit about North Korea beforehand, but this book was an eye-opener! Never have I imagined what the truth is actually like for North Korean people, and it was devastating to read about famine, extreme poverty, and schools where even mathematics were turned into propaganda to enforce the North Korean regime and diminish the “nasty Yankees” from America. However, this story also tells us the nastiness of human trafficking in China and how Yeonmi and her family were forced into situations they have felt ashamed of ever since. I’m not going to say anymore here because Yeonmi’s account is simply honest, educating and truly truly important. Read this book to educate yourself on what is really going on in this world. This is the truth told from the source, and it is eye-opening, devastating, but so so important!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Shifting focus on this biography journey away from men with significant power, I wanted to find a piece that would not only educate, but also exemplify some of the struggles of the common person. That this is also a buddy read with a good friend of mine only adds to the interest when it was suggested I read this memoir by Yeonmi Park. Growing up in North Korea, Park offers the reader some history of the country and the autocratic Kim Family dynasty, some of which directly related to her own ance Shifting focus on this biography journey away from men with significant power, I wanted to find a piece that would not only educate, but also exemplify some of the struggles of the common person. That this is also a buddy read with a good friend of mine only adds to the interest when it was suggested I read this memoir by Yeonmi Park. Growing up in North Korea, Park offers the reader some history of the country and the autocratic Kim Family dynasty, some of which directly related to her own ancestors' story. Thereafter, Park personalises the story to discuss her backstory, a life on the cusp of abject poverty and general servitude to the Great Country, which included a vignette about gathering an annual faeces quota to help with collective farming, alarming and yet somewhat humerous at times as well. After secretly paving the way to make an escape, Park and her mother cross a small tributary into China, where things are anything but manna from heaven. Supporting a policy of returning North Korean defectors, the Chinese are on the lookout for those who might have snuck across the border. Park explores the treachery that awaited her in China and a life that paralleled the agony of North Korea when she found herself being trafficked. It was only a firm motivation to make her way to South Korea that kept Yeonmi strong and prepared for freedom, a dream that Christian missionaries sought to fulfil. While many take freedom for granted, Park offers an interesting perspective of South Korean freedom, which might provide much sobriety for the reader. Full of tears and angst, Park does not coat her story with flowery tales and sing-song moments, while transitioning from the darkest corners of one country about which the world knows so little. A powerful piece that pulls on the heartstrings of all but the most detached readers, Park provides a degree of determination that no obstacle is insurmountable. I went into this book sure that I would come out with a ton of information grounded in reality, not solely western propaganda seeking to kick the Kim family around and exploit their suppressive ways. To hear directly from one who has lived in these conditions and seen the horrors of starvation speaks volumes to me. I found myself needing to keep my academic hat firmly in place and remind myself that someone has synthesised this book before it went to print, even though Park professes to have a strong grip on the English language by the time she completed her draft. Adding layers of oppression and making the light of freedom look all the better will sell books, especially to complement the media reports of increased aggression and assassination of familial members, though part of me could not help but accept the stories that fill these pages as being more realistic than reserve-propaganda. Full of the dark sides that these types of stories have to offer, the reader must stomach death, neglect, rape, and even criticism of that which many of us take for granted. Park's surprising openness about the problems with freedom should not be taken lightly by the reader, as she makes a strong case about the perils of removing those who had no choices and supersaturating them with options and pathways. The story was her own, but adding a familial element helped strengthen its delivery and permitted the reader to see how desperate some were to leave North Korea, that they would abandon family to pave the way towards a better life. An underlying theme of political ideology surely finds its way into the discussion, from the Korean War, Soviet-style communism, to the eventual isolated sentimentality that even Mao would not have recognised. One is left to wonder what would be best for North Koreans, especially since most appear less than truly happy, if one is to believe the accounts that Park offers herein. Should people be oppressed or live in a society that does not offer democracy for all citizens? That is up to the reader to decide, though Park provides wonderful insight to open a substantial debate. Kudos, Madam Park for this honest portrayal of the pains of your motherland and trying to recalibrate in a society only too happy to pile on the criticism. You are monumentally strong for all you have seen and weathered. I hope you will provide a follow-up in the years to come. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Churchill

    I'm not normally an autobiography fan. I mostly read fiction. But Yeonmi's story is just... you know how they say truth is stranger than fiction? That. We have to bear in mind here that I met the lovely, kind and humble lady herself before I read this. I'll hold my hands up that that probably had an impact on how much this book touched me. Split into three parts to document her escape from North Korea, set in NK, China and South Korea, the account is heartbreaking, fascinating and punctuated by th I'm not normally an autobiography fan. I mostly read fiction. But Yeonmi's story is just... you know how they say truth is stranger than fiction? That. We have to bear in mind here that I met the lovely, kind and humble lady herself before I read this. I'll hold my hands up that that probably had an impact on how much this book touched me. Split into three parts to document her escape from North Korea, set in NK, China and South Korea, the account is heartbreaking, fascinating and punctuated by the odd bit of humour that translates perfectly from the personality I met - she learned early to hide her suffering behind a mask. A frightening and fascinating look into life inside North Korea under the Kims' rule, human trafficking in China and the 'reeducaion' of defectors in South Korea, I feel privileged to have met Yeonmi, and wish her every luck in the world in her fight to find justice and reunite Korea.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Umut Rados

    WOW! This book was just impactful because it's full of a very young woman's strength, endurance and emotions. I loved every bit of it, and I admire Park with all my heart. Full review coming soon. WOW! This book was just impactful because it's full of a very young woman's strength, endurance and emotions. I loved every bit of it, and I admire Park with all my heart. Full review coming soon.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ionut Velicu

    Shameless. This is one of the most frustrating readings I had, not because the writing is bad (on the contrary, the touch of a well versed editor is obvious), but because I simply cannot understand how a story that clearly has A LOT of holes in it can be held in such a high regard. Nothing adds up in Yeonmi Park's book, but nobody seems to care. This should be a red flag for all of us, since it shows that people look for personal heroes and inspiring success stories whatever the cost. Everybody i Shameless. This is one of the most frustrating readings I had, not because the writing is bad (on the contrary, the touch of a well versed editor is obvious), but because I simply cannot understand how a story that clearly has A LOT of holes in it can be held in such a high regard. Nothing adds up in Yeonmi Park's book, but nobody seems to care. This should be a red flag for all of us, since it shows that people look for personal heroes and inspiring success stories whatever the cost. Everybody is more than ready to acknowledge and show their support for yet another hero overcoming all obstacles, but what about the half of the book that doesn't seem real at all? If Park adds some lies here and there to make her book more empowering and appealing to the public, shouldn't it rise any kind of suspicion about the overall truthfulness of the story? What if those lies are actually gross exaggerations? Park starts by telling us about her harsh childhood in a very modest family. However, her father has a great sense for business, and starts smuggling gold and such out of North Korea. She admits that he was a party member, but never mentions his rank in there. My guess is that he had a very comfortable high position, since I doubt that you'd be able to smuggle gold out of a communist country by only bribing low level officials and cops. This discredits her "humble beginning", and probably South Koreans reached the same conclusion when they started calling her the Paris Hilton of North Korea. She goes on with her story, and than she mentions that her father was able to escape prison by promising an incredible bribe to the prison warden. Of course, they were very poor and had no such money, but that was the end of it. In the meantime, the love theme is casually inserted in the story, when a rich, smart, cool and older (I am running out of adjectives) kid falls for the 13 year Park, despite the social class gap. Soon after, she and her mother escape to China where they fall in the hand of human traffickers. Here, Chinese brokers rape Korean women left and right, but they never manage to rape Park because she screams and kicks. I'm guessing that the other ones never came up with this solution... She finally gives in to rape when a big Chinese "gangster" offers to help her entire family if she sleeps with him. This deal naturally evolves in Park being the gangster's right arm in the human trafficking business. This is because Chinese gangsters probably don't have any kind of entourage, and they are in need of 13 year olds to keep the business going. Park mentions that she was prematurely born at 7 months, and that she always was smaller than the rest of the kids. However, this doesn't stop her to convince everybody that she is much older, while practically handling North Korean slaves across rural China. The love theme is then reintroduced with the entrance of a new bigger "gangster" who kidnaps and also tries to rape her. The previous gangster (practically her partner) wants to get her back, and the love triangle breaks when gang wars are close to start in the city for the sake of Park. She really expects the readers to buy this... And apparently they did. In passing she is also mentioning having an abortion, but it probably isn't that important in the grand scheme of things. She then proceeds to do video chat with her mother in order to gain money to escape to South Korea. But while other girls had to strip for their clients, Park managed to build one of the most popular video chat channels by simply talking with her customers, and never taking her clothes off. But there is more! While video chatting she meets a nice South Korean guy who flies to China to simply help her with some money. Then, Park reaches South Korea where she manages to get from a second grade level to being admitted to a prestigious university in little less than two years. Her sister did it even quicker than that, so what's up with the South Korean educational system? Of course, she is bullied in school by the rich, cool kids. She than decides to have some TV appearances hoping to find her long lost sister. It doesn't matter that in some of those appearances she was wearing a lot of makeup (even her classmates failed to recognize her and first) and also had a fake name. These are just a few parts of the story that smell fishy. Of course, Yeonmi Park did a great job with her book. Let the royalties come! Meanwhile, the rest of us are giving her credit while spending a lot of money on a over-hyped book. Honestly, I would have expected that by now some sort of boycott should have happened out of respect for actual rape victims, human traffic victims and oppressed people in general. I want my 20 pounds back.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I’ve read a few books from North Korea defectors. Most noticeably A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea and Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, but I hadn’t really read anything from a purely female perspective until now. Yeonmi Park grew up in North Korea, near the border with China, with her entrepreneurial father, mother and sister. Although they may not have initially had the worst upbringing due to her father’s ingenuity, this changed when he was sent to prison, I’ve read a few books from North Korea defectors. Most noticeably A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea and Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, but I hadn’t really read anything from a purely female perspective until now. Yeonmi Park grew up in North Korea, near the border with China, with her entrepreneurial father, mother and sister. Although they may not have initially had the worst upbringing due to her father’s ingenuity, this changed when he was sent to prison, leaving Yeonmi and her sister alone without food while their mother travelled for work. What follows is the now typical, and harrowing, tale of starvation and desperation to survive in a country that doesn’t care for their own outside of the elite. Yeonmi talks openly of a childhood spent searching for food and constantly living in fear that they could follow in their father’s footsteps. Desperate to survive. Desperation turns to flight, as Yeonmi and her mother are smuggled into China, and to perhaps an even worse fate than starvation as they soon become embroiled in the trafficking and raping of North Korean women to impoverished Chinese farmers. Throughout her story, Yeonmi is honest and open about her experiences to the point where it almost feels cathartic. By sharing her story it feels like Yeonmi is expressing not only her disappointment in her home country, but also her grief and resilience to thrive. And it also gives hope to those still struggling. The book also really highlights just how different the experience of defecting is for North Korean women compared to men. Often the men do this alone, and are exposed to harsh and violent endings. The women endure their own unique horrors that seem to revolve around this feeling of powerlessness and reliance on their captors, but often it’s alongside other women who share their plight. For Yeonmi, she had her mother. The most surprising aspect for me were the later chapters centering around South Korea. I’d read previously of the struggles first encountered by North Koreans during their assimilation into South Korean life, however I wasn’t fully aware of the prejudices, and also the lack of understanding, that Yeonmi faces on encountering native South Koreans. This seems to be no fault on the governments side, as they provide education and money to help ease the pressures, but rather just a general ignorance to the plight of defectors. It would seem, from Yeonmi’s perspective, that they choose to bury their heads in the sand to the real suffering across their borders. I found it especially sad that Yeonmi felt the need to bury all aspects of her North Korean heritage - from her accent, to studying ‘celebrities’ just in order to fit in and be accepted. The real sentiment I’ll take away from this however, is just how strong the familial bond can be. Yeonmi and her mother face so much adversity through their lives, and continue to look for their missing sister and daughter long after their arrival in South Korea. Their bond never waivers, and the love they have for each other is unending.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hillary

    4.5 stars Incredible and heartbreaking story. I wanted to write a review but honestly I don't think I'll ever be able to. In my opinion it's impossible to write criticism about a book like this. I'm happy I read this and that I know a little bit more of what happens in the world. Since no one ever talks about the conditions of NK I'm going to. Everyone I know will listen to me talking about this huge problem. I had previously read Escape from Camp 14, but I needed some information about women in NK, 4.5 stars Incredible and heartbreaking story. I wanted to write a review but honestly I don't think I'll ever be able to. In my opinion it's impossible to write criticism about a book like this. I'm happy I read this and that I know a little bit more of what happens in the world. Since no one ever talks about the conditions of NK I'm going to. Everyone I know will listen to me talking about this huge problem. I had previously read Escape from Camp 14, but I needed some information about women in NK, and this book was perfect for that. Btw don't let people fool you. Instead of helping Yeonmi and praising her for what she's doing for her country, people that have no idea about what she went through are lying telling the world that she is a fraud. And that's exactly what NK wants you to think. Everyone that is doing this should be ashamed of himself/herself. Watch these amazing TED talks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdxPC... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLeeT...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    Breathtaking.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I'll have a review of this up next week! I'll have a review of this up next week!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mariah Roze

    I read this book for the Goodreads book club Diversity in All Forms. Join the discussion: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/... I am very glad we read this book because North Korea is a country I know very little about. This book was super eye opening. I also had never heard of the human trafficking in China, especially the trafficking of North Koreans. Books like these are the reason I read. I love having my eyes and world open. They motivate me to make a difference and a change, even if I can I read this book for the Goodreads book club Diversity in All Forms. Join the discussion: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/... I am very glad we read this book because North Korea is a country I know very little about. This book was super eye opening. I also had never heard of the human trafficking in China, especially the trafficking of North Koreans. Books like these are the reason I read. I love having my eyes and world open. They motivate me to make a difference and a change, even if I can only contribute in small ways. I'm a Special Education Teacher that teaches high schoolers with cognitive/intellectual disabilities and I started a book club about diversity. Both of these things are small but they help me feel like I'm making even a small difference. This book also reconfirms why we need to treat immigrants and refugees with respect, help and understanding. As citizens l, of any country, we need to welcome others and help them adjust. They have been through so much and need us. I suggest this book to everyone!!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    We are always worried about a dystopia yet to come, without realizing, that in some places across the world, the system already exists. There are two things to take from this book. 1) The struggle some people around the world have to endure compared to the relaxed lives we have, and 2) Human resilience can overcome all, and that in times of trouble, there will still be good people out there willing to help.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara ➽ Ink Is My Sword

    5 Unbelievable Stars After reading, and while reading this book I kept going.... .... ... I just couldn't speak from all the horrors she went through in her life. I kept asking myself, " If that was me, would I be able to survive?" Yeonmi went through all the unimaginable nightmares when she was ONLY 13 years old, and she was strong enough to survive and tell us her story today and helps us see the reality our world is leaving today. Because while we are here, reading about fictional dystopian 5 Unbelievable Stars After reading, and while reading this book I kept going.... .... ... I just couldn't speak from all the horrors she went through in her life. I kept asking myself, " If that was me, would I be able to survive?" Yeonmi went through all the unimaginable nightmares when she was ONLY 13 years old, and she was strong enough to survive and tell us her story today and helps us see the reality our world is leaving today. Because while we are here, reading about fictional dystopian worlds, there are real human beings out there living in ones. This book lets us feel the painful reality and shame of our lives, how we don't think sometimes how absurd we think when we are making a tantrum just because a store doesn't have the flavor of ice cream we want, while in North Korea people don't even consume milk, is a crazy thing right? This is a most read, just for the sake of humanity <3

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leonie

    This was such an insightful story. Both terribly horrific and beautifully inspiring. Im not giving this book a star-rating because it feels odd to 'rate' a story that is real. I do want to recommend it to everyone who is even remotely interested. Don't be hesistant because it's non-fiction; it's very readable and approachable. I'll be thinking about this for a long time. This was such an insightful story. Both terribly horrific and beautifully inspiring. Im not giving this book a star-rating because it feels odd to 'rate' a story that is real. I do want to recommend it to everyone who is even remotely interested. Don't be hesistant because it's non-fiction; it's very readable and approachable. I'll be thinking about this for a long time.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aoife

    Video review: https://bit.ly/2ALL4Si Yeonmi Park was only 21 years old when she began writing her memoir In Order to Live which tells the tale of how she and her mother escaped from a terrible life in North Korea, to be captured by human traffickers in China and eventually travel across a desert to Mongolia to find safety in South Korea. I have just finished this book and I’m left with a throat full of tears for this wonderful, amazing girl and her courage and power to talk out about things that Video review: https://bit.ly/2ALL4Si Yeonmi Park was only 21 years old when she began writing her memoir In Order to Live which tells the tale of how she and her mother escaped from a terrible life in North Korea, to be captured by human traffickers in China and eventually travel across a desert to Mongolia to find safety in South Korea. I have just finished this book and I’m left with a throat full of tears for this wonderful, amazing girl and her courage and power to talk out about things that have happened to thousands of people. I thought I had an idea of what life must be like in North Korea. We have seen the articles and the documentaries and the news broadcasts about Kim Jong Un but nothing prepared me for the reality Yeonmi spoke about in her book. She is only two years younger than me and to think that she was freezing cold in her house, almost starving to death while I was probably visiting the zoo with my family or snuggled in bed reading Harry Potter is just insane to me. Her story really, really touched me and I can really see the special power she has to bring this story to light and make people perk up and pay attention. Yeonmi Park’s voice is so brutally honest in this memoir. She really tells it how it was and even though she had to relive some horrible memories, she put them down for everyone to see - she even spoke about how her father, like most North Korean men, beat her mother at times which must have been hard for her to write considering the reaction this would have in the Western world and her father was her hero. Yeonmi managed to capture her story in an honest and beautiful way that left me speechless and emotional but I really was touched by the clarity and purity of her writing. After everything she has been through, Yeonmi can still see the beauty in life, the kindness in people and joy in simple things such as education and simply being free to choose. She is an absolute inspiration and she is definitely someone to watch as she is going to become even greater than she is today.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Virginia

    Wow. Just wow. This girl is only 21 years old and has lived a life that most of us could never fathom. Born and raised in North Korea, she was brainwashed to believe the Benevolent Dictator Family, the Kims, could read her mind and was cautious of any negative thoughts she may have about her country. That's how controlled her life was. Due to an incredible series of events performed by her whole family in order to live, Park escapes to China where she and her mother are captured and sold into sl Wow. Just wow. This girl is only 21 years old and has lived a life that most of us could never fathom. Born and raised in North Korea, she was brainwashed to believe the Benevolent Dictator Family, the Kims, could read her mind and was cautious of any negative thoughts she may have about her country. That's how controlled her life was. Due to an incredible series of events performed by her whole family in order to live, Park escapes to China where she and her mother are captured and sold into slavery. However, Park knows that she is meant for more than captivity and manages to save her mother and herself. They embark on a terrifying journey to seek safety in South Korea, crossing the Gobi Desert into Mongolia and flying to a land she'd been told was full of "Evil." The contrasts Park lays down between what she grew up learning and the real world are eye-opening. Her writing really transports you into North Korea and you're fighting for survival right along with her. The ending is beautiful and hopeful. I really am honored to read her story and you will be too. She's an amazing woman with an amazing story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    This was absolutely phenomenal. I had no idea of about 90% of the things happening in North Korea. It sounds like a country that someone made up on a drug high, to be completely honest. Absolutely mind-boggling how something like this still exists in the 21st century. Yeonmi Park is literally only about two weeks older than me, but has had a life of more hardships and struggling than anyone should ever have to put up with. I can't even begin to imagine what she went through. But then to also be b This was absolutely phenomenal. I had no idea of about 90% of the things happening in North Korea. It sounds like a country that someone made up on a drug high, to be completely honest. Absolutely mind-boggling how something like this still exists in the 21st century. Yeonmi Park is literally only about two weeks older than me, but has had a life of more hardships and struggling than anyone should ever have to put up with. I can't even begin to imagine what she went through. But then to also be brave enough to write a book about it all is just extremely impressive. I couldn't put this down, it was fantastically written and the story she recounts is absolutely heartbreaking.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    I was sent this book to review by Penguin after I sent a request asking to receive it because I was interested in reading it and hearing Yeonmi's story, but I will always give my honest opinion and for this book that was easy to do. I, like many others who live in the modern, Western part of the world, knew very little about North Korea before I was sent this book. I had watched one or two documentaries and I knew things were bad, but I hadn't yet had the chance to pick up and read an actual acc I was sent this book to review by Penguin after I sent a request asking to receive it because I was interested in reading it and hearing Yeonmi's story, but I will always give my honest opinion and for this book that was easy to do. I, like many others who live in the modern, Western part of the world, knew very little about North Korea before I was sent this book. I had watched one or two documentaries and I knew things were bad, but I hadn't yet had the chance to pick up and read an actual account of someone's time living there fore they managed to escape and when I saw that this book had come out ti seemed like the perfect time. This book is divided into three parts; North Korea, China and Seoul. These are the three places that Yeonmi and her family tried to survive and escape from in order to make a new life and home for themselves in Seoul at the end. Along the way you follow Yeonmi as she tells you about what happened to her in each of these places, and whilst the writing does feel rather detached in the first part, the second and third were less so and by the end of the book I was crying along with Yeonmi and her family! I think it's hard to 'rate' someone's actual life story, but Yeonmi is special because what she's been through hasn't been easy, and yet she not only has recovered and made something of herself, she has also made herself a target of North Korea by becoming an activist and trying to inform people about the real conditions of North Korea right now. The biggest feeling I had whilst reading most of her story was that it couldn't be real, it must be fictional, because of course these sorts of terrible things can't be happening still...but they are. Until I read this I couldn't comprehend the severity of the North Korean regime and the way that people there are taught to believe in the Kim leader so fervently, but now I understand Yeonmi, I see that she was just one of many and many more who are still now trapped back in North Korea. Her journey was a dangerous one and a brutal one, but now it's an essential one because it saved her life, the life of her family, and it's also giving hope for those still trapped and raising awareness to people like me who would otherwise have barely known what happens there. I would say that this is a fantastic little book, I read it all in a day, and that the writing is done cleverly to gradually, slowly draw you in so that by the end you're right there with Yeonmi, hoping for a change for the others left behind. I would strongly recommend educating yourself about North Korea if you know little, and this is a great way to do so. I gave this a 5*s because by the end I had tears streaming down my face and I fully intend to watch some of her talks, although I know I will cry through those too. Sometimes it's good to cry if it means you connect, empathise and want the best for people, and this is one of those cases. She's a little older than me, and that struck a chord with me for sure, she's been through so much I haven't had to go through, and yet she's very close in age to me... It's a brilliant book, you should read it...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mari

    I talk about this book in my November reading wrap-up video. Don't worry about my rating for this book. How do you rate a story like this, a book like this? I don't know. I don't know at all. What I do know is that I was unable to put down Yeonmi's story once I picked it up. It at once gave me a glimpse into a life in a place I knew nothing about, had never really thought about, could never imagine even if I tried. Yeonmi's story is incredible and it's the kind of story that makes you think, that I talk about this book in my November reading wrap-up video. Don't worry about my rating for this book. How do you rate a story like this, a book like this? I don't know. I don't know at all. What I do know is that I was unable to put down Yeonmi's story once I picked it up. It at once gave me a glimpse into a life in a place I knew nothing about, had never really thought about, could never imagine even if I tried. Yeonmi's story is incredible and it's the kind of story that makes you think, that puts things into perspective and that makes you want every single person to read it, even if it's only to be exposed to a life outside of their purview. I mentioned this in my video and they aren't complaints, but just two observations to keep in mind as you go into the story: 1- It's told in quite plain language. All of the emotional complexity comes from the events, as the way Yeonmi tells the story is straight forward and 2- detached. This, especially in the beginning, can have a sense of detachment. You can almost feel the way she has had to compartmentalize in order to tell this story. The story is no less touching for the way it leaves a little bit of space between the reader and the tragedy, but that space, to me, did exist. I'm not typically a huge non-fiction reader, but for anyone who wants to dip a toe into the genre, here is an important yet accessible read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nat

    It seems strange to give this book a rating due to its nature. These five stars are for Yeonmi Park’s immense courage, resilience and perseverance. She is my hero. Yeonmi’s story demands to be read. This is how the world really works. “I lived in North Korea, the country where we were supposed to have nothing to envy, and all I felt was envy – desperate envy for the people on the other side of the river” [in China] “I knew in my heart that I deserved to be treated like a person, not a hunted anima It seems strange to give this book a rating due to its nature. These five stars are for Yeonmi Park’s immense courage, resilience and perseverance. She is my hero. Yeonmi’s story demands to be read. This is how the world really works. “I lived in North Korea, the country where we were supposed to have nothing to envy, and all I felt was envy – desperate envy for the people on the other side of the river” [in China] “I knew in my heart that I deserved to be treated like a person, not a hunted animal.” “I had used my first two years of freedom to work on myself; awakening my mind and opening it to the possibilities of the world.”

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jananie (thisstoryaintover)

    "We all have our own deserts. They may not be the same as my desert, but we all have to cross them to find a purpose in life and be free." One of the most heartbreaking things I've ever read but also the most moving and inspiring. I cannot express the emotions I feel but I am just so grateful that Yeonmi shared her story. "We all have our own deserts. They may not be the same as my desert, but we all have to cross them to find a purpose in life and be free." One of the most heartbreaking things I've ever read but also the most moving and inspiring. I cannot express the emotions I feel but I am just so grateful that Yeonmi shared her story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    I’ve always been curious about life in North Korea but didn’t really make an effort to find out just how weird and harrowing it was until I saw Yeonmi Park’s In Order to Live - a memoir of a girl who grew up in North Korea, defected, and now lives in South Korea - and decided to find out. Well… I found out. Weird and harrowing doesn’t come close. The book opens with a teenage Park and her mother trying to make it across the North Korea/China border in the middle of the night, bribing guards and r I’ve always been curious about life in North Korea but didn’t really make an effort to find out just how weird and harrowing it was until I saw Yeonmi Park’s In Order to Live - a memoir of a girl who grew up in North Korea, defected, and now lives in South Korea - and decided to find out. Well… I found out. Weird and harrowing doesn’t come close. The book opens with a teenage Park and her mother trying to make it across the North Korea/China border in the middle of the night, bribing guards and risking everything. Her mother makes the men on the border rape her instead of her daughter. Oh no… That’s the opening gambit - that’s a hint at the level of misery in store. For a brief moment, Park’s depiction of her childhood in rural North Korea almost sounds quaint, if strangely anachronistic, like medieval peasants somehow still existed - the quiet, the focus on community, the closeness of her family - and then the famine hits. She sees stick-thin corpses near wells who had tried to get to some water, people are eating grass for nourishment, and one young man is executed for killing and eating a cow - a person’s life has less value than cattle. Park mentions the story of her grandmother’s death. An amputee, the grandmother, who couldn’t work, felt so guilty over eating her morsel of food each day, she chose instead to commit suicide than eat food that could go to her children and their families. She overdosed on meth and went to sleep forever. Why meth? There’s no medicine in North Korea and the only painkiller they have that’s cheap and effective is this street drug. Her father had to resort to smuggling to keep his family fed - until he’s caught, sent to a detention camp, and then it’s down to her mother to make money for the family. They can’t make money in the rural village where they live, each parent had to go to Pyongyang to scrape together a living. Her mother ended up leaving Park and her little sister alone out of desperation - Park was 8 years old. I spent weeks reading this and eventually gave up at the 30% mark. This was more real than I could handle. I was crying every few pages, I was miserable, I was getting really depressed reading this nightmarish account, so I had to stop for my own mental well-being. It’s too much. I’m glad I tried reading it though as I did learn a tremendous amount about North Korea - it really is a country-sized cult. Like how they’re taught their Dear Leader can control weather with his thoughts and how he wrote 1500 books in his three years at university. A North Korean arithmetic problem taught to kids literally goes: “If you kill one American bastard and your comrade kills two, how many dead American bastards do you have?” But holy fucking god - this is a tough read. I know, poor me, right? Considering what this young woman went through! I wouldn’t have made it anywhere near her age now (she’s only in her early twenties) if I’d been born in North Korea! If you want to get a crystal-clear picture of just how horrific day-to-day life in North Korea is, In Order to Live is for you but this much concentrated human suffering will seriously make your heart hurt. I can only hope Park and her mother find her missing sister someday - if there’s any justice, give this family some happiness for pity’s sake!! - and someone somehow soon kills those evil Kim fucks and flattens their entire regime. Like the abolishment of East and West Germany, I really hope we see a single unified and free Korea in our lifetimes. Now I’m gonna go drink many drinks and curl up in the fetal position…

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ashley DiNorcia

    I don't even know what to say. The things Yeonmi and many others like her survived in North Korea and China are things most people don't even think about in their lives. This is a must read. I don't even know what to say. The things Yeonmi and many others like her survived in North Korea and China are things most people don't even think about in their lives. This is a must read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    BOTW http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06kbcy8 Description: Human rights advocate Oona Chaplin reads the North Koeran defector, Yeonmi Park's remarkable account of her escape from one of the world's most repressive regimes, and her struggle for survival. Aged thirteen, she and her mother crossed the North Korean border into China where the pair fell into an underworld of human traffickers. Following their harrowing experiences, the two crossed the Gobi desert into Mongolia before they finally foun BOTW http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06kbcy8 Description: Human rights advocate Oona Chaplin reads the North Koeran defector, Yeonmi Park's remarkable account of her escape from one of the world's most repressive regimes, and her struggle for survival. Aged thirteen, she and her mother crossed the North Korean border into China where the pair fell into an underworld of human traffickers. Following their harrowing experiences, the two crossed the Gobi desert into Mongolia before they finally found freedom in South Korea. In today's episode, Yeonmi Park recalls what it was like to grow up in a dictatorship. Twenty-two year old Yeonmi Park is now based in Seoul. She is travelling the world and speaking as a speaker and human rights activist. 1/5: Recalling wjat it was like to grow up in a dictatorship. 2/5: A turning point was reached when Yeonmi's sister goes missing. 3/5: After a daring escape into China, events take a dark and disturbing turn 4/5: A new and dangerous plan to find freedom takes shape. 5/5: Yeonmi struggles to adjust to freedom, and her sister is still missing

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aga Durka

    Wow!! What a moving story! This book is a must read for everyone. Yeonmi’s story is a powerful and horrifying description of her life in North Korea and her escape from the regime. This book gave me a new perspective on life.

  30. 4 out of 5

    El

    What were you doing when you were 13 years old? I shudder to think because I know I was a disgusting 13-year-old, full of #FirstWorldProblems (back when we still called hashtags the "pound sign") and unwashed hair. Life was ending every single day as far as I was concerned, because the popular girls said something to me that hurt my feelings, or the boy I was crushing on at any point didn't look at me that day, or I was bullied relentlessly. It doesn't really matter because all of those days wer What were you doing when you were 13 years old? I shudder to think because I know I was a disgusting 13-year-old, full of #FirstWorldProblems (back when we still called hashtags the "pound sign") and unwashed hair. Life was ending every single day as far as I was concerned, because the popular girls said something to me that hurt my feelings, or the boy I was crushing on at any point didn't look at me that day, or I was bullied relentlessly. It doesn't really matter because all of those days were sort of the same as far as I was concerned and I couldn't see the end of any of it. Do you know what Yeonmi Park was doing when she was 13? She and her mom were escaping from the everyday real horrors of North Korea by dangerous and illegal efforts of crossing over the Chinese border and then, a couple years later, across the border into South Korea. She gave no fucks about what kids were saying about her in school, primarily because she wasn't going to school. That's sort of one of the first things that goes away when you're trying to escape the country of your birth. This is her harrowing story of leaving what she knew behind and hoping to encounter a better, safer, happier, healthier life on the other side. I've since read some reviews and articles about the concern of the veracity of Park's story, which is one of the reasons I tend to avoid reading memoirs like these. But at the end of the day, the decision behind my rating and my acceptance of this book as a quality memoir is that Park showed me the inside of North Korea in a way that I hadn't seen previously. Over here in the warmth of our comfortable homes in North America, we don't always know what's going on in other countries, and as we know very well now, there's no way of knowing what portion of the news shown to us on TV and in the papers and (god forbid) on the internet are even true. "Alternative facts" are words thrown around a great deal today, which is almost funny except for how desensitized we are all becoming to the concept that we can't trust the news we should be able to trust. So what I have known about North Korea is Kim Jong-un, missiles, and whatever happens to come through perhaps in Korean horror movies. What Park provided was just the state of affairs I don't always get even from the BBC, the living conditions, the way that Park's mother grew up believing that Kim Il-Sung was essentially a god that could never die. When he did, it threw her life into a tailspin because it disrupted everything she had been raised to understand about the leader of North Korea. What I don't learn about by Westernized sources is just how incredibly powerful the propaganda has been, how insidious it has been, in North Korea, and what that does to those who love there. This book opened my eyes, and for that I am grateful. Additionally grateful (for lack of a better word) that Park touches on the very troubling reality of human trafficking. I don't care to discuss whether or not I believe Park's experiences because it's not my place to question. But she does shine light on something that has happened to so many people from so many places for entirely too long. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that often gets overlooked because many feel it's not something we (Americans) need to worry about, though that is far from the truth. Or maybe many just aren't ready to address it because it is so close and we don't want to see it. In any case, it is a real issue, we should be aware of it, and if Park's story sheds light on something that so many experience so we can take steps to eradicate sexual slavery, then that makes it a powerful story. For more information about human trafficking, please check out the Project to End Human Trafficking (PEHT). I work with the founder of the organization, but I have no ulterior motive here and am not formally connected to the project or the work of the project of any way. They're just doing really good things and we all need a little more awareness as to what is really going on around us in the world.

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