North Korean Activist Yeonmi Park Is the Voice of the Oppressed and "Forgotten" People of North Korea
The human rights activist grew up in a terrifying reality and eventually escaped North Korea — the place she describes as "indescribable" — through a treacherous journey across the Gobi Desert.
"No humans deserve to be oppressed just because of their birthplace," she said at the Summit.
Now, she studies economics at Columbia University, and was most recently featured in Tory Burch’s #EmbraceAmbition campaign. She refuses to stop sharing her story and seeking freedom for North Koreans.
"When I was crossing the Gobi Desert, scared of dying, I thought nobody in this world cared. It seemed that only the stars were with me but you have listened to my story, you have cared," she said at the Summit.
Back in North Korea, Park used to illegally watch the film, "Titanic," an act which was forbidden and would have resulted in punishment by the North Korean government if discovered. (The government does not allow its citizens to watch anything that does not support their government.)
"Those movies did give me a taste of freedom and they showed me that there can be different life, there can be different ways of living, but that didn’t really give me a sense of what was really wrong about my country," Park said in a recent Facebook Live video.
Now, she works with Flashdrives for Freedom, an organization that sends USB drives to North Korea over the border from South Korea. The drives are chock-full of Hollywood movies, television series, documentaries on democracy and communism, and homemade clips of everyday life that is going on in South Korea, to prove that freedom does exist.
"I think why I advocate getting information is very important to free North Korea eventually is because people really ask me why North Korea, why people inside the country, don't do anything about it, and I say that if you don’t know what you deserve, if you don’t know what you can have, how do you demand your rights?" Park said.
Park's message has been crystal clear since the beginning: to urge people not to forget the people of North Korea and to make them visible to create a global movement to free them.
"I never thought this day was going to come. I am free like this and go all around the world… but the people in North Korea, they have no idea what is possible. They don't really know what is really possible in their lifetime, and that's why I think it is really important we get information inside North Korea and tell them they can be like us. They can be free like us and can have this kind of lifestyle," Park said.
Photo Credit: Facebook/ Yeonmi Park