By Yeonmi Park
In 2007, the thirteen-year-old malnourished Park and her mother fled to China from North Korea. Park finally recounts the terrible events, fear and starvation.
Park and her mother were searching for her older sister, who escaped the country just a few days earlier. Park narrates the downfall of her relatively prosperous family following her father’s arrest and sentencing to re-education camps for trading on the black market. Soon after, the family falls into starvation.
Once in China, the pair, thinking they had reached freedom, or at least food, instead realised they were now victims of human trafficking. “We had come to a bad place, maybe even worse than the one we had left.”
Eventually Park finds her way across Mongolia to South Korea. Following a painful period of adjustment to a new life, Park finds her footing. She gets her GED, she attends university, and even becomes a television celebrity on a talk and talent show featuring North Korean defectors. Now a leading human rights advocate, Park’s remarkable and inspiring story shines a light on a country whose citizens still live under these harrowing conditions.
I recommend this book to those who are willing to read through the gruesome chapters and learn the truth behind the glossed news coverage of North Korea. This book can be quite terrifying, so it is definitely not suitable for the faint hearted. It would help to have a background knowledge of the events taking place or past genocides, the Holocaust or other horrifying and significant events that still effect the lives of people today. This book was extremely captivating and made me want to continue to turn the page to find out more. It is filled with many twists and turns. This book shows the true side of North Korea and one family’s harrowing story of survival.