“My mother let herself be raped to protect me.”
An account shared by a North Korean woman named Yeonmi Park has captivated over 75 million viewers, and that’s because her tale is one worth watching and sharing. At thirteen-years-old, the human rights activist became one of the few individuals to successfully escape North Korea. At twenty-one years of age, she finally spoke out about the atrocities she witnessed in the isolationist state and the horrors she and her family members endured to break free.
During an address given at the One Young World conference in 2014, Park shared that she was brainwashed by the propaganda of Kim Jong II and was forced to watch her friend’s mother be executed for watching a Hollywood film, reports The Independent.
“North Korea is the only country in the world that executes people for making unauthorized international phone calls. North Koreans are being terrorized today,” said Park. “When I was 9 years old, I saw my friend’s mother publicly executed. Her crime? Watching a Hollywood movie. There’s only one channel on TV. There’s no Internet. We aren’t free to move, sing, read, wear or think what we want.”
People live in fear of speaking out against the regime, as three generations of imprisonment or execution are imposed on those who express doubt about the dictatorship. For understandable reasons, many have attempted to escape but it’s the minority who are successful at doing so.
At one point during the journey to freedom, Park’s mother allowed herself to be raped so that her two young daughters might know what life outside of North Korea is like.
“I saw my mother raped. The rapist was a Chinese broker. I will never forget his face. The rapist had targeted me. I was only 13 years old,” said the emotional twenty-one-year-old.
At the end of her speech, the activist called on One Young World delegates to speak out and petition China to stop repatriation. She urged those in attendance to support North Korean refugees that flee the country, so they might live better lives.
“North Korea is indescribable. No humans deserve to be oppressed just because of their birth place,” said Park. “We need to focus less on the regime, and more on the people who are being forgotten.”
Her heartbreaking testimonial can be viewed below:
A standing ovation which lasted over three minutes followed Park’s speech for understandable reasons. People left the auditorium with red eyes, reflecting on the atrocities millions of people in North Korea endure.
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