On October 5, 2015, the youngest Ubber speaker will be at the Green Kresge Center at DePauw University. I first read of the upcoming visit by human rights activist and author Yeonmi Park in the news media section of DePauw’s online website.
Sword Rattling While People Hunger
It is significant that North Korea’s dictator is again assembling his army and threatening South Korea with war, as conditions worsen for the people of North Korea still trapped there.
Yeonmi Park is 21 and has already lived through more atrocities and deprivation than she should have experienced in two lifetimes. She has written a non-fiction book, “In Order to Survive”, which details her escape from North Korea through China and Mongolia. Her parents, formerly imprisoned and destitute, sought achievement of family asylum and freedom in neighboring South Korea. She and her mother crossed frozen lakes among human traffickers and endured incredibly demeaning treatment, fear and exhaustion. Her father had stayed behind due to cancer, not wanting to slow them down. He later joined them, but did not survive the Chinese mountains and Yeonmi and her mother buried him there. He died of cancer without pain medication in snow covered foreign mountains in order to find freedom from his own North Korean government.
Park received a standing ovation after being introduced by James Chau at last year’s One Young World Summit:
Odyssey for Independence Never Before Known
After frozen mountains of China, the mother and daughter came into forces of different guides and enablers until Christian missionaries helped them enter Mongolia. They appealed to the South Korean embassy but due to the strife of the area, Yeonmi and her mother had to hide or be discovered and returned to North Korea where they’d face retribution.
The area’s humanitarian aids working undercover assisted them in achieving South Korean embassy’s asylum. Yeonmi declares, “For the first time in my lifetime, I own me.” Today she is a student in South Korea in her 3rd year at university studying criminal justice. Awards and accolades have been bestowed upon Yeonmi since stepping up to the humanitarian platform and speaking to the entire world. However, Yeonmi regrets the attention the world pays instead to Kim Jong Un’s eyebrows and appearance, a disheartening hurdle to overcome as an activist.
She states, “He killed 80 people in one day for watching a South Korean movie or [sic] with the Bible,” she notes, “Crazily, we are talking about Kim Jong Un’s appearance– nobody asks, ‘where are the North Korean people who died?'”
“It’s the same thing as the Holocaust,” she notes, a crime against humanity widely ignored while it went on. “We ignored it, and we said ‘never again,’ but now it’s happening again, and we are ignoring it.”