“It is literally the darkest place on earth. People are still fighting for … food and drinking water. And the regime uses starvation as a tool to control the population.”
Listen to the latest episode of CBN’s Quick Start podcast 👇
That’s how North Korean defector-turned-U.S. citizen Yeonmi Park described her childhood entrapped inside the confines of North Korea’s borders.
With no food, resources, or information about the outside world, Park, like most North Koreans, suffered profoundly.
She and her fellow citizens were — and continue to be — embroiled in literal and figurative darkness.
“The only thing that we are allowed to believe and learn is about the propaganda that are being taught by the school teachers and by the regime,” she recently told CBN’s Faithwire. “It was a different planet. I did not even know what internet was.”
Before escaping North Korea and coming to America, Park had heard horrific ideas about the United States, believing Americans were “cold-blooded … monsters” who would torture and harm North Koreans.
“But I was lucky enough to escape to South Korea eventually, and that’s when I heard that America was a democracy,” she said. “This is a country that respects human rights and respects people’s religion on faith or thoughts. So, that was my idea. I thought, ‘This was the home of the brave, the land of liberty.'”
Watch Park tell her harrowing story:
Park, who is out with a new book titled, “While Time Remains: A North Korean Defector’s Search for Freedom in America,” is warning, though, about some of the patterns she sees developing in America — dynamics she believes could threaten the freedoms held dear.
The mother of a young American son, Park said she’s afraid for the nation she now calls home.
“I was realizing that freedoms that I thought Americans had, it was like slipping away from all of us,” she said, noting she worries America is in the “beginning” phase of becoming more like North Korea, particularly when it comes to tactics to divide as well as free speech restrictions.
“America uses race to divide people,” Park said. “In North Korea, they use … what our ancestors did to divide people. Even though you’re the same people, same language, same skin colors, same genetics.”
She added, “Based on what my great-great-grandfather did, they determined if I have oppressor blood or oppressed blood.”
Thus, based on familial ties, one’s standing is decided, with Park likening this to some of what she sees happening in America today on the race front.
“There is forever no redemption in that system,” she said. “So, collective guilt, collective punishment.”
Park said her American son, who is half white, might be called “privileged” by some and treated as though he’s guilty of the sins of the past. But she noted her own story, which is part of her son’s history, to explain the complexities of such an ideology.
“His mother was a sex slave. His grandmother was sold for $65 in the 21st century,” she said, noting her son’s skin color doesn’t diminish that reality. “They used race to divide people, and I think that is horrifying.”
Park also deeply addressed some of the more complex and tragic parts of her story, including her experience fleeing North Korea and ending up a victim of the sex trade.
After traffickers guided Park and her mother out of North Korea, they sold them into slavery in China.
“I [saw] my mother being raped, and then they sold me into sex [slavery],” Park said. “And I got separated from anybody that I knew.”
Despite facing these horrors, Park said she’s grateful for overcoming, escaping, and reaching America.
Now, she hopes to protect the freedoms she’s come to enjoy and help stop America from slipping into the abyss through her book, “While Time Remains: A North Korean Defector’s Search for Freedom in America.”
Watch the full interview with Park here.
***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app, developed by our parent company, to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***