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Producers' Pick | North Korean defector Yeonmi Park's incredible story of survival and success

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade
The Truth Network Radio
February 26, 2023 12:00 am

Producers' Pick | North Korean defector Yeonmi Park's incredible story of survival and success

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade

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February 26, 2023 12:00 am

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I'm Emily Campagno, and this is the Fox True Crime Podcast, bringing you closer to the story than you ever thought possible. Subscribe at or wherever you download podcasts. These are the stories that keep you up at night.

She's also been all around, speaks at international conferences, and when she sits next to Jeff Bezos, she didn't originally know who the Amazon founder was, but she's here now. You know me, welcome back. Thank you for having me. I mean, what a great story you are.

I know you're a little tired of going over it, but it is the story that captures everyone's, like, horror in the beginning and feels great about where you are. But first off, you're born in North Korea. Almost nobody knows anything about the hermit kingdom.

Yeah. What was your reality as a child? Every day I was starving, and I had to buy in front of the dictator's portraits in the household. And when I go to school, the only things the teachers taught me was how horrible American bastards were and how amazing our dear leaders were. They taught you that they thought they were like super, you thought they were supernatural. You thought Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-il, they were supernatural gods, right? Yeah, they were gods to us. I believed that he could read my mind, he knew how much hair on my head, and the first thing that my mom told me as a young girl was, don't even whisper, because the birds and mice could hear me. Did your parents believe that? I don't know, but because in North Korea, if you say you don't believe, you get executed along with three generations of your family.

So there's no way you know what people think. Your dad was ambitious, and he kind of did some things on the black market there to get some additional food. What was he doing? He initially sold dried fish, clocks, and clothes, and then later he was selling metals, like knee care and copper, and that was a crime. Got caught.

Yeah. Went to prison. Yes, he was. Did your mom go to prison too?

Yeah, he did. And you were how old? I was about nine at the time. And your sister? Eleven twice.

Eleven. And you had no parents? No. You had to fend for yourself? Yeah.

How did you do that? I guess it's, you know, humans are very strong when you face this kind of, you know, death almost. You become very strong and you learn how to survive. You knew you had to get out? Yeah. So when your dad got out of prison, he wasn't the same guy?

Mm-mm. So he was just beat down, right? What did he tell you prison was like? It's unspeakable. I think I remember when he came out, he could not look at my eyes because in prison, they teach them to not to look at the guard's eyes because you are not a human being anymore.

When you commit a crime, you are not a human being. So he was not used to look at my eyes or anybody's eyes. He just could not look at people's eyes ever again. When did you decide you had to get out of there? When I was 13 years old and we could not just find any more grasshoppers or dragonflies to eat. You were eating insects.

Yeah, that's what I was doing when I was kids. Because you were denied because both your parents were prisoners. It got even harder for you? Ninety percent of people are starving in North Korea because the regime realized that it's easier to control people when there are less of them. So they chose to starve us and kill us from starvation. So it wasn't an accident that you guys weren't hungry. It wasn't bad farming. No, it was man-made. This was intentional. Yeah, it was man-made famine, intentionally.

What did you do for fun? We don't know what that is. We don't have that concept. In North Korea, we don't have world for stress because we don't... How can you be stressed living in a socialist paradise? Right. Yeah, and we don't know what happiness is.

We don't have world for love because the only love we know is our love for the dictator and not our love for other people. So you leave at 13. You find someone to smuggle you out into China. Yeah, that's how initially we wanted to escape and then there was a person who wanted to help us and that was a lady who was selling us to human traffickers. So they got you into China and sold you off? Yeah, they sold us as sex slaves. You, your sister, and your mother? So my sister went first and a few days later, my mother and I followed her and that's when we all three got sold separately. Is there any way to put words to how terrible that was? Do you try not to think about it?

I do think about it because, you know, there are 300,000 of them right now in China while you and I talking. And I'm one of just 209 of them came to America. How did you get out? I had to cross the frozen Gobi Desert into Mongolia by foot. How long was that?

I was 15 years old in 2009 in February. That's how I got out of China and missionaries rescued me from South Korea. Who led you across the desert?

No, they couldn't. The chance of surviving is 1%. They would have gave us a compass and told us to walk, follow the northern star, like northern and western side and cross the six, eight wire fences. Who went? And we survived.

You and your mom? And then few other people in our group that we crossed together. And you got into South Korea? And then Mongolia, then they sent us to South Korea. And South Korea, were you okay?

In South Korea, I was protected, I was safe. And what did you do for money once you got there? I was young. I had to study by myself and then I had to work, you know, my mom was washing dishes in the restaurant. I was working in the dollar store.

I was working as a waitress and that's how I supported myself. What about your dad? He passed away.

When? He, in China, he got a lot of sick from the torture prison in North Korea, so he passed away in 2008 in China. Unbelievable sadness, but you're in South Korea. Do you feel hope? No, because by then I lost my faith in humanity. Anybody I met was my rapist in China and they were the worst things I've ever seen. So, and then not only that, like I got to South Korea, they say the Americans are not horrible.

They are living under democracy. Everything that I believed was a lie. And how long did it take you to understand that? Did you know immediately America was not what it was meant to be? Did you not believe it at first?

Of course I did not believe it. I think I was reading George Orwell's book Animal Farm in 1984. That book changed my life. Wow. I was able to understand what happened to me. So your parents, your mom says, I'm staying, you want to go to America?

Yes. How did you get there? I came, this is the first country I came legally I guess. I came here to write my first book and then with a penguin and a mouse and then I went to Columbia University in Uptown. How did they find out you had this incredible story?

They didn't. I accidentally gave a speech in Dublin, Ireland and that speech went viral and viewed by almost like a billion people. So the penguin ran the house, like reached out to me and wanted to write a book. And you go to America and you stayed?

Yeah, I came here. I got the O-1 visa. It's called something extraordinary visa and then they gave me a green card afterwards. So you got a green card. Where are you living at this point? I'm in New York and I became American last year actually.

Wow, that's fantastic. But you grew in Chicago and you got mugged, right? Yeah, I was.

It was unbelievable. I mean, being mugged is okay, you can be mugged. But what people did to me, because I was mugged right in front of my child who was two years old. And several black women during the BLM protests were punching me and took my wallet out.

Because? It's okay, anybody can be a thief, but the people on the street were refusing to help me. And not only that, they were screaming at me and calling me a racist because I was trying to call the cops on these criminals.

And you must be like, what the hell is going on here? Yeah, I literally thought this is crazier than North Korea. Even in North Korea, if there's a victim getting robbed, we are going to help them. Do they know, you know me, that your prominence, that they just thought you were just somebody, an Asian woman walking in the street and they're targeting you? Yeah, so these people think that Asians are not our privilege right now, right?

We are getting educated. But you're as bad as white people. Right, we are like, they call me, I'm a white passing person. So I am guilty, I have almost white privilege, and therefore I cannot be a victim even though I am being victimized by these black women being punching me and taking my wallet away. I have no right to defend myself and I cannot even call the police on these criminals.

I don't deserve any compassion and justice in their mind because of my skin color. What year is this? It was a BLM protest. Two years ago.

Yeah, two years ago, literally. So you got out of Chicago because you feel when these people get out of jail, you put them in jail, right? I did. One of the girls got to jail, but not mine. She committed 15 other charges, so my thing dropped.

The judge gave it to the other crime and she got to jail, but still my story was almost public, so I was afraid that she could come out and commit a revenge crime. So you're back in New York. Yeah, I am. So one of the compelling things about your story is we're covering education and the disturbing fact that so many parents through the pandemic are seeing what these kids are learning about the 1619 Project. America is built on stolen land, on the backs of slavery, that were imperialistic, white-centric, white-supremacist.

All horrible notions of what America is, you would think by our greatest enemy instead of there being taught in schools. But you came across this when you got to college, and you write about it in your book that everything you've been through, you're shocked that one time you got somebody's pronoun wrong and they were so offended. And you looked at them and they were really hurt. They were crying, literally, in tears.

Literally in tears. From what you've been through. Yeah. And for them to cry because some ridiculous notion of pronoun awareness.

Yeah. How do you process that? I think that's when I realized that not having a problem is an actual problem. They literally, this woke ideology, teach you to create an injustice out of nowhere.

It's really looking for oppression out of nowhere. Like, that's not an oppression, but for they mind that me calling him because he was a biological male and I did not know what they meant. And I could not really use him. He was a biological male. Yeah. And you said he. Yeah. How dare you? I'm offended. I know. And I was, that's for the first time I realized this kid is brainwashed.

Like, exactly how North Korea, my classmates were brainwashed. I did not feel bad. I felt really bad for this. For him. Yeah.

You didn't blame yourself, obviously. Of course, these guys are much taller than me, bigger than me, in tears, thinking this is the biggest oppression he's ever facing in his life. And somebody told him that, that somehow this is a real oppression and this is something that he should feel destroyed about.

And somebody planned it in his mind since he was a kid. So I was starting realizing the American education system became another court system, like North Korean system. They indoctrinate you. They don't teach you how to think, they tell you what to think. And do you think the American people should be concerned about this?

Of course. I mean, it wakes me up at night because the same ideology that drove North Korea into what it is, is happening in American universities. And they are cherishing this Marxism, collectivism, equity. It's the most horrible thing you can ever do, trying to fix the outcomes of everybody.

You know, you can never do that. That's so evil. And they, I mean, our vice president keep talking about equity all the time. It's a, it's evil. That ideology drove hundreds of millions of human beings into death. And we are not combating that.

We are somehow telling our kids that's a good thing to do. It's astounding. By the way, we're talking to Yanomi Park. Her book is now out. You've got to pick it up. All Time Remains, a North Korean defector's search for freedom in America. What's amazing is you were so able to perceive that. So if you're in North Korea, survival is your number one focus.

Don't worry about insults, how people view me. I've got to eat. Yeah. And then if we're in the middle of a war, we got an enemy.

I got it. But you're saying without anything, without any focus, without any problems, America's creating their own problems. And that's why these people were having meltdowns in front of you as this woke ideology is so damaging to the country. And it is almost, it's pathetic if you ask me. Don't you feel?

It means pathetic. Absolutely. I mean, for them, the injustices means how much range we give to the chickens in the world. I mean, they are human beings. I was sold for just above $200.

My mother was sold for $65 on the Chinese Communist Party. And instead of fighting real injustice, they want to fight how many range you're going to give to the chickens. Like that's, I mean, the state really like lost it.

They have no idea how other people are surviving this state. And this is an Ivy League education in Colombia that people will pay if they don't have the $85,000 a year to go to. And a lot of people say, well, I'll go there. I'm not going to listen to any of that.

You know, I got strong parents. I don't believe that. Do you still think it should be a concern if you send your kid to a school like that? I don't think I will send my son to Colombia for sure.

You will not. And maybe if you're just going to study pure science, maybe then. But I don't think there's any point of going to study humanity at this point currently because it is a pure religious cult, pure indoctrination camp. And would you raise a child who is so not capable of understanding how reality works and not understanding how history works? You know, that's that's that's shocking.

Why would you do that to your child? A couple more minutes with the Yanomi. You can stick around.

Oh, yeah. We'll take a short time out. Come back and learn more. Not only what's wrong with America, but how to fix it.

Don't move. We'll meet you. The investigators who tirelessly worked on the case. Law enforcement who never gave up. Bringing you closer to the story than you ever thought possible. It had nothing to do with her disappearance, but people still accused me of it. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. And then they looked outside and they saw somebody running. You may think you know everything there is to know about these crimes.

You don't. But I'll take you there. Unreal.

I mean, one guy could do all of this. It's frightening and I feel very bad for the people involved. You'll get to know the incredible survivors and those left behind in the wake of the wicked who live among us. These are the stories that keep you up at night. I was in shock. I was just devastated. I feel for their families and I really hope that I can catch this guy. Hopefully get answers. We are completely devastated as a committee and as a community. Subscribe at or wherever you download podcasts. Search for freedom in America.

And that's kind of sad that you have to do this. But you just came to this country at a fascinating time. I think the American people would love to hear your take on China. They put out a 12-point peace plan. Should we believe that China wants peace in Ukraine?

No. I don't think that's what they want. What is their obsession with Taiwan like? Why are they obsessed with taking over Taiwan? I think it's like a symbolism for them. For them to take their old land back.

I don't think it was even theirs. But the people who went there during the Chiang Kai-shek. A lot of people fled to Taiwan to be free. And it's thriving in a capitalist society, right?

Exactly. Complete opposite from the mainland of China. The innovation, human rights, and people are thriving. The culture is amazing.

I think maybe it's a really symbolism that they just won it all at this point. It's not only that they're expanding to Taiwan. They're expanding to Africa, Middle East, even Iran. They get so much funding from China. Even Indonesia.

I have so many friends. They were given scholarships from China and came to America to study. And I was like, of course they will become pro-China eventually if we do that, right? Right. So everybody's under Chinese influence, right?

Even American institutions are there. Even our Hollywood is under Chinese influence. You mentioned that they're going to do a story on your life. And you said, great. And then you get the story back and it makes China look great. And you say, what was the name of the company? And what did they say when you told them, China is not a hero in this. They were going to give me back to North Korea. I was human trafficked and sold as a sex slave there. What did they say to you? This is the only way we can make a movie in Korean Hollywood.

And what was the name of the company? You don't want to say? Yes. Because you might want to deal with them anyway. No, I don't. I pulled the deal out of it.

I was like, I'm not going to make that movie. And why do you think they want to give so many money to American colleges, so much money? Hundreds of millions of dollars. Why are they doing that? I think it's good for them to have these allies in American mainstream that is pro-China, right? Because they are cheating when we are trading with them. They're not fair partners. Whatever we do, China always cheats.

So whoever they can plant in American system, they can continue to cheat. And nobody is going to raise any voice in that. And right now you're a human rights activist. And what are you doing in North Korea? With South Korea to North Korea?

Yeah, so there are two things I do. One, we are still rescuing North Korean defectors from China to freedom. So there are 300,000 of them and are being sold and raped every day and their organs are harvested out of them.

So we rescue them to free countries like South Korea, UK or America, Canada, like that. And then another one is we send information into North Korea. Balloons? Yes, we send the leaflets through the balloon launch. Yeah, these are good balloons.

Not the balloons we've been shooting yet. Alright, pick up her book, While Time Remains. It'll truly be inspirational. It'll make you realize you have no problems and you can overcome anything. You know me, it's been great talking to you. Best of luck the rest of the way. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 00:12:09 / 2023-02-26 00:20:53 / 9

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