She Saw Her Mother Raped And She Buried Her Father: The Girl Who Escaped North Korea

If you watch one thing today, make it this video. Yeonmi Park is a human rights activist who escaped from North Korea with her mother when she was 13 years old – and her story will shake you to the core. During a speech made at The One Young World Summit in 2014, which has only just gone viral this week after someone shared it on Facebook, Park recalls the devastating impact of growing up in the isolationist state.
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She describes watching her friend’s mother be publicly executed for watching a Hollywood film, and being made to watch her own mother be raped to ensure her protection.
“The day I escaped North Korea, I saw my mother raped," Park says through tears. "The rapist was a Chinese broker. He targeted me, I was 13 years old.
“There is a saying in North Korea: ‘Women are weak, but mothers are strong’. My mother allowed herself to be raped in order to protect me.”
Park was born in 1993 and was abducted at birth. She describes an unimaginable situation of having to bury her own father when he died in China after the family escaped from North Korea. “I had to bury him, at 3am in secret. I was 14 years old, I couldn’t even cry, I was afraid to be sent back to North Korea.”
Recalling the story of her escape, Park says: “Mongolia was our freedom moment. Death or dignity. Armed with knives, we were prepared to kill ourselves if we were going to be sent back to North Korea. We wanted to live as humans. No humans deserve to be oppressed just because of their birthplace.”
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Park hammers home the reality of life in the country, calling it “indescribable”. She says: “No humans deserve to be oppressed just because of their birth place. We need to focus less on the regime, and more on the people who are being forgotten."
In 2015, Park criticised westerners for laughing at Kim Jong-un and treating him as a joke, when they should be treating him like the “murderer” he is.
“His haircut is funny. He is fat. He is like a cartoon character somehow, and he might try to kill me but now I am free, so I can say anything I want," she said.
“But Kim Jong-un is not a joke to me. He was a God I had to worship every day. He is a murderer. Making fun of dictators cannot be enough. Why is it so funny?”
The re-emergence of the video comes in a week in which the US has said its policy of "strategic patience" with North Korea is finished, according to the BBC, and it may take military action.
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