Yeoung Park: Advocate For Change

You may not have heard of Yeonmi Park, but after hearing her story, you will never forget her. At 21, she is a more outspoken activist than many people twice her age, and for good reason. Despite her young age, she has witnessed and experienced more persecution in her short life than most would in their entire lifetimes. Raised in North Korea under Kim Jong-Il, she watched her father torn away to a slave labor camp for smuggling just so that he could afford to keep his family fed through the horrible famine that gripped North Korea in 2002. Fleeing the country, her mother was raped, her father died and was buried in the mountains of China, and her sister did not join them for 5 years after they had made their escape.

What is this remarkable girl doing with the struggle and tragedy that she has survived? She is using it as a force for good. Describing her upbringing, Yeonmi Park tells a story on youngvoicesadvocates where only one passion was allowed: passion for the state. No love was allowed except for their leader, and no hatred except for the people deemed enemies by the regime. Indoctrinated with this philosophy, previous generations remained loyal followers of the North Korean dictatorship, however the current generation, called the “Black Market Generation” by Yeoung, is experienced an erosion in this philosophy by the western media they are being exposed to. For Yeoung, it was a copy of James Cameron classic “Titanic”, and it showed her a different example of passion. In this film she observed people fighting and dying for love, not for the state, and it caused a complete shift in her view of the world.

She speaks out that the same ting is happening to many of the other members of her generation in Norh Korea, and she predicts that it will be the generation to change the situation in North Korea, but they cannot do it alone. As the president and CEO of LiNK (Liberty in North Korea), she oversees a modern-day underground railroad in North Korea. She states with pride that “Kim Jung-Un doesn’t like me at all.” and he has good reason not to. It is people like Yeoung Park that will eventually cause the downfall of the oppressive dictators in North Korea, just like Kim Jung-Un.

It has taken too long for this change to begin, and Yeoung places the blame, at least in part, on the same western media that changed her views with a single film. She points out the inaccurate focusing of our media on the lighter aspects of the North Korean dictator. We report on his antics, his clothes, and his hair instead of the utter and total brutality of the regime he is controlling. She often quotes the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

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