REVIEW: In Order To Live - Yeonmi Park

5/5

Never would I have considered reading the autobiography of someone who escaped North Korea. Why? Because I wasn't sure any North Koreans had managed to both escape and live to publish their story. I never knew the truth was out there and ready for all of us to read. We shouldn't shy away from it, we should let ourselves know the truth.

My knowledge of North Korea before reading In Order To Live was basic. Like everyone else, I stereotyped. I assumed. I read a Wikipedia page and treated it like fact. But what Yeonmi Park has taught me through her insightful, honest and revealing account of the horrors she has faced inside and out of North Korea is heart-wrenching. I turned the final page and was left wondering how we can live in a world where something this disgusting is happening to millions of people and do nothing about it? We today are as bad as those who turned a blind eye to the Holocaust.

In Order To Live begins with Yeonmi describing the main part of her escape from North Korea and instantly she shows the terror her and her mother underwent that night and the consequences that they would have faced had they been caught. She then goes on to start with her childhood and tell the story of her life from the blind innocence of her youth in North Korea, to questioning the regime and planning an escape as well as all that happened after. Even after Yeonmi escaped, she was far from safe. In China and South Korea she faced further risk and underwent horrific conditions which are too awful for me to describe in a few sentences here. 

I think what astounded me the most was how eloquently Yeonmi expressed herself. She describes her struggles with language as she had such a poor education in North Korea and a lot to catch up on when she left, but yet she puts into words some of the most difficult things a person can ever face. Not only that, it was incredibly brave for her to express herself considering she has been threatened by the North Korean government for doing so.

After reading In Order To Live I am inspired to read more about North Korea and those who have escaped. I wonder what it will take before this atrocity is over. If you'd like to read In Order To Live you can get yourself a copy here. Let me know if you were as moved as I was.

Love, Jess

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