As part of the Depauw University’s Ubben Lecture series, human rights activist Yeonmi Park will share her story of hope, despair and the long journey to freedom. At the age of 22, Park is considered one of the leading authorities on human trafficking and one of the strongest voices of oppressed people around the globe. Park’s speech will take place at 7:30 on Monday, Oct. 5 at the Green Center’s Kregse Auditorium.
The North Korean defector was the keynote speaker at Dublin’s One Young World Summit. She has also published a book on Amazon, In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey To Freedom, which chronicles her harrowing escape from North Korea and the terrible hardships that she and her family endured while attempting to evade Chinese authorities.
I read about Park’s story, which was chronicled in the DePauw University’s newsletter. She was born in the North Korean city of Hyesan to well-to-do family. North Korea is a society completely under state control, which means — you have virtually no rights. After watching the film, The Titanic, (which is banned in North Korea) the seeds of freedom were planted in Yeonmi’s mind.
After Yeonmi’s father was arrested for smuggling gold, he was arrested and sentenced to a forced labor camp. This is when Yeonmi and her father both knew they must leave North Korea for good. Over the next three years, Yeonmi, her father, mother and sister faced many tough times while plotting an escape; her father would die of colon cancer in 2009 before the family made it to freedom.
Park says that although she and her family faced many obstacles, she still feels strong. It is her goal to speak for those who have no voices and have been forgotten. She has delivered a number of passionate, heart-felt speeches over the past few years about many things she witnessed in North Korea. She says it is her hope to shed new light on this cause and help others who find themselves in the predicament she was once in.