Yeomni Park’s book, “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” is the story of her odyssey from North Korea, trekking through China and the frozen Gobi Desert to South Korea. It is one of the hottest selling books on Amazon. She explains conditions in North Korea, how the people are oppressed and what desperation led her family to escape into China. Park says she has to tell what conditions are like in North Korea, likening what is happening to the Holocaust with its concentration camps, so that others will know and the oppression and cruelty can be stopped.
Yeomni’s father was once a civil servant for the Working Party. He was sentenced to 17 years in a labor camp for smuggling metal to feed his starving family. Starvation was commonplace in North Korea in the wake of the Soviet Union collapse, which caused a famine in North Korea. In the labor camp, Yeomni’s father was tortured and became ill with colon cancer, while his wife and daughters were marginalized as part of his punishment. At times, all they had to eat were grass and insects. The family decided it must flee. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelley-calkins/north-korean-defector-yeo_b_8491406.html
Yeomni’s sister ran first, north into China, then Yeomni and her mother. The same night they entered China, Yeomni and mother became victims of sexual trafficking. Yeomni’s mother offered herself in an attempt to save her daughter, but Yeomni, only thirteen at the time, was quickly sold into slavery as well. Yeomni has difficulty talking about this part of her ordeal, as she feels great shame still about the sexual abuse. See more: https://reason.com/blog/2015/11/15/yeonmi-parks-north-korean-defector-story
In an interview with The New York Times, Park talks about how writing the book made her relive the experience. She had blacked many memories out and as she reconstructed her journey for the book, the details started coming back. Some details she still suppresses because they are too painful and shameful. Yeomni now studies criminal justice in South Korea and works as an activist, recently speaking at the One Young World summit in Dublin and at the UN Human Rights session on North Korea. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/04/park-yeon-mi-in-order-to-live-north-korea-interview