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What I Learned about Freedom after Escaping North Korea

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
November 3, 2023 3:02 am

What I Learned about Freedom after Escaping North Korea

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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November 3, 2023 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Yeonmi Park was born in 1993, and in 2007 fled from North Korea with her family to China and settled in South Korea in 2009—before moving to the United States in 2014. What we are about to hear is Yeonmi’s story she gave to a group of students at the Young America’s Foundation in Santa Barbara, California.

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Visit eBay.com for terms. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. Yanmi Park was born in 1993 and in 2007 fled from North Korea. What we're about to hear is Yanmi's story, one she gave to a group of students at the Young America's Foundation in Santa Barbara, California. Let's take a listen.

I still get very nervous when I'm about to give speeches and there's one thought that comforts me is, right, even if I mess it up up there, at the end of the day, I'm not going to be executed. So what do I have to lose, right? Thank you. Today in my hotel room, there was an air conditioner and there was a heater in the bathroom. There's a carpet and there's a bed and looking at the swimming pool. I was thinking, I'm pinching myself. Am I dreaming?

Is this a so much different planet? Because the world that I grew up in, in North Korea, nothing resembles what we see here today. Today I was thinking about my friends, my family members that I left behind in North Korea right now.

What would they be doing tonight? They would be eating grasshoppers, they would be eating cockroaches, they would be eating anything they could find. In North Korea, children eating even mud and parents tell the children, if you eat the mud, you cannot go to the bathroom and you're going to die.

And people still eat the mud, even they know they're going to die. And the reason why we are suffering and why we are starving is because that we have the government, the biggest government they can imagine. I am very spiritual and one day I asked God, like, God, you know everything that is happening. Like, why do you let North Korea exist? Why do you let this happening? Sometimes I can understand. And one day I understood finally. He wanted us to see what it looks like when individuals give their rights, all of their rights and freedom to governments and what the government does that with. I came to America and I went to Columbia University and in my classrooms the professors were telling me how I need to be stay outraged, how I should stay angry and stay woke because of the injustice the white men that causing in this world. And I was thinking like, are you a psychopath?

You got to be a psychopath. Do you have any idea even why not in the 21st century? 4 billion human beings are not free.

And most of people still struggle to find a basic need to survive. We live in the best nation, the best country that's ever existed in the entire human history and in the entire world. And if you cannot be happy with it, I don't know you need to go to North Korea then.

Thank you. So it's very surreal right now I'm standing in this room full of American bastards who was my sworn enemy. I learned in my school from my teachers that Americans are bastards and it's one word. And even in my math book they were saying there are four American bastards, you killed two of them. How many American bastards left to kill?

This is a math question for a child. So now I'm here I'm with the most amazing bastards you can imagine. Thank you. And like that our world view was so simple. They brainwashed us that we are so lucky that we had our dear leader who was chosen by this universe who was a god. And one thing that North Korea did was they eliminated all the religion and especially they persecuted entire Christians. And then what Kim Il Sung did was he became god.

He copied the bible and told us that he loved us so much he gave us his son Kim Il Sung and his body dies but he can read our minds and his spirit is with us forever. So with that brainwashing I was I had no idea the world like this existed. By the time when I was 13 years old I couldn't find any more food to survive.

And we are the same people with the South Koreans but we are average three to five inch shorter than South Korea's because of malnutrition. And luckily I was living in the border town and at night time I saw the lights coming from China. And I was 13 years old in 2007.

My sister escaped first when she was 16 years old. I wanted to go with her and I couldn't go because I had a huge bad stomach ache. My parents took me to hospital and you expect I mean this is a socialist paradise right there's a free health care free education free housing I mean everything is free but nothing works.

There's no x-rays there's not they use the beer bottles as a drop. A nurse used one meter to inject every single patient and people cut their bones without any anesthesia. Doctor just opened my belly that afternoon without any painkiller and then he thought I was I had some appendix and obviously when he opened it wasn't I was just a manatee then I had an infection but he still removed my appendix so I'm gonna sue him when I go back.

So I learned that from America by the way swing culture. I have a lot of people to sue. I need to sue Kim Jong-un. I need to sue Xi Jinping.

A lot of people I need to sue after this. Thank you. Yanmi Park's story continues here on Our American Stories. Here at Our American Stories we bring you inspiring stories of history, sports, business, faith, and love. Stories from a great and beautiful country that need to be told.

We can't do it without you. Our stories are free to listen to but they're not free to make. If you love our stories in America like we do please go to OurAmericanStories.com and click the donate button. Give a little.

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Let's return to her story. After this surgery there was on the way to the bathroom. We don't of course have indoor bathroom.

We have outdoor bathroom. We have to go. There were these piles of human bodies were dead and this is not something I see for the first time. But you see these children trying to catch these rats eating human eyes first.

Do you know when we die? Rats eat our eyes first because that's the softest tissue that we have. And this woman that I don't know how she was wearing this flower pattern pants.

Her eyes open and her eyes are open because our eyes are out. There's one thing that we do is when North Koreans die they cannot even close their eyes because they don't have any strength to even use that muscle. And then when these children eat these human beings those children die from this some disease that rats carry and then they eat us back.

This like cycle going back and forth between eating by rats and they eat us back. That's when I realized no matter what it takes I'm going to escape from North Korea. I found a lady who wanted help me to go to North Korea and at the point I didn't even it didn't occur to me why would this lady helping me to escape.

I crossed the frozen river when I was 13 years old with my mother to China and the first thing I see was my mother being raped. And the saddest thing about being a North Korean is you don't even know the word rape. The regime doesn't teach us these vocabularies right. How can you be raped in the socialist paradise? How can you be depressed in the socialist paradise? So therefore they eliminated these words from our dictionary.

No word for liberty, there's no word for freedom, human rights, depression and of course there's no word for gay. It's a different planet. And then I was like 50 pounds or something, I was 13. And we realized the reason we went to China was these Chinese men, there were more than 30 million men right now in China cannot find wives because of the one child policy. They more girls got aborted than boys and men cannot find the women. So there's a huge demand to buy North Korean girls as sex slaves. So they sold my mother who was 41 years old to $65. And they sold me for just over $200 because I was virgin and I was 13 years old child.

The phone that I have in my hand cost more than my own price. And the most satisfying thing that I'm standing here today is while eating steak, while eating this food, there are 300,000 North Korean women right now in China are being sold. The one place that buys North Korean women is buying them and taking their organs out and kill them. Second place that they buy North Korean women is in the brothels and women resist so they give the drugs to girls.

They usually last about three to six months. This is what North Korean women go through. But even that is not safe. The Chinese government catch them and sending them back to North Korea. It's like catching a Jew and sending them to a concentration camp. So the only way I could have survived was escaping from China again.

So where do I go? Luckily for some reason, I was saved by missionaries from South Korea. They were truly God's people and they came risking their lives and told us there was a way out of North Korea, which means crossing frozen Gobi Desert by foot in minus 40 degrees.

Luckily, as you can see, I'm not the biggest person, but for some miracle, I got saved at night. I crossed the frozen Gobi Desert and eventually I was sent to South Korea. Only about 207 North Korean defectors made it to America over the last 80 years. It shows how impossible to escape from that country.

It's so interesting. I came to America. Initially, I started my activism to save my people, to tell the world what's happening. And I thought like, if we oppose slavery that happened 200 years ago, obviously we're going to oppose it right now if it's happening right now, right?

And that's what I thought too. As soon as I was going around talking to the New York Times and talking to these people, actually so funny, I came to Santa Barbara five years ago, invited by Jeff Bezos to attend the four seasons to talk about my story. I talked with the most prominent people in the world and told them, this is what's happening to my people. If you can stand up for the girls who were captured by ISIS or Boko Haram, can you be a voice for North Korean women too? And you know what they said?

Don't tell anybody that you know me because they have business in China. Nobody in free world wants to fight for North Korean women. And not only that, not because I say big government sucks, that socialism is evil, now I became the enemy of the work.

It's such a, it's interesting word. So I really want, one thing I wanted to realize is that, do you know how North Korea became how it is today? When Kim Il-sung came in the 1950s, he made one promise to North Korean people. I'm going to feed you rice and meat stew each meal, and I'm going to get rid of all the inequality. If I do that, why don't you give me all your land on all your rights? So what you know, North Korean people did that. We wanted no inequality, so we gave our land, our rights to this one guy for that little price.

He took everything from us, and he did not give us anything back. The only reason that Kim Jong-un stays in power is because of Chinese Communist Party. Without Chinese Communist Party supporting North Korea for just one week, the regime would collapse.

So who is accountable is Chinese Communist Party. And if we hold them accountable, we can save North Korean people. And you've been listening to Yanmi Park tell the story, the harrowing story of life in North Korea, particularly what that means to women. The odds of getting sold off to slavery are high. Sex slavery still in the 21st century, you're hearing it firsthand, folks. And the anguish in her voice as she shares these stories, a cry for help in the West, of what's happening in the East. Asian upon Asian atrocity, right? The dear leader of North Korea offering to the people of his country the absence of inequality, if only they'll surrender their land and rights. And of course, look what happened ever since. When we come back, more of this remarkable tale, this lesson in what happens when we lose our rights and freedoms.

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Rent free living. Oh, you know what my favorite thing is? Lay it on me. Knowing that just briefly hearing one of us screwing around in the wall will consume someone's mind to the point of tortured obsession. Oh, that's diabolical. Then once I have their attention, I like to go real quiet for a while to make them wonder if they heard what they thought they heard.

Then repeat that cycle over and over again. Oh, sounds like a real emotional roller coaster ride. Exactly.

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Let's return to Yanmi Park. It costs right now about $1,900 to rescue North Korean defector to freedom. But unfortunately, that rat even got a cancer because of the pandemic and the development of the AI, the China facial recognition. It became impossible to bring any North Korean out of North Korea or get them out of China. So basically, North Korea, who cannot even feed its own people, bought this technology from China and installed them in the border.

So they have the AI recognition, facial recognition cameras all around the country. And they put the landmines to entire border of North with China. So Kim Jong-un made the whole country a concentration camp. He put the electrified wire fences, entire border, and landmines and machine guns. And China's side, they did the exact same.

So at this point, rescuing any North Korean became impossible. So whenever in America I came and people in Manhattan living in the best city in the world telling passionately how America is so bad. So I asked them, so what is it so bad about America that you hate so much? And they say, you know what? We have inequality in this country. It's like, that's amazing thing that you can rise compared to other people.

The enemy is poverty, not inequality. I mean, really completely honest with that. Maybe we need a brain surgery. I don't know. How can you be? How can you?

I don't, it's just, I mean, I like every classroom at Columbia I was going. And these kids, vegans. Right? And going on this juice cleanse. 20 bucks per bottle bought in Soho.

Waiting is like 50 bucks, yoga pants. And telling me how capitalism is so evil and free market is so evil and America is so evil. And but they got to be smart. They come to very good schools, right? They took the history lessons. I haven't gone to American middle school and high school, elementary school. So maybe something's wrong with this country's education system.

I think that's the only thing I can think of. They really get brainwashed. I love books.

It's the best thing that's ever created, I think. I mean, I used to say, of course, like George Orwell's book in 1984, Animal Farm. That changed my life. But I love books. And I think more people read the books instead of going on TikTok and Instagram. It's a shame even I have to go on like social media.

I'm not on TikTok, but to relay my message. But I think I cannot believe that the shallowness and how people do not even know the basic things anymore. So only thing you can do is I guess we have to pray. We need some power, some help from higher place at this point and hoping for the best.

Thank you. I became American this year. And I'd say I know it's to me like becoming an American is like worth more than winning billion lottery tickets.

So I used to, so it bothered me like, how can you be not jumping up and down every second that you live in America? So when people see how much they are so angry, I like, yeah, you need to go to North Korea. Yes, I love people in North Korea and I love Chinese people.

Obviously, I love all the people. But, you know, after you go through all of that, I feel like I lived like at least thousand years by now. So whatever I've got afterwards is some kind of bonus life. And so I wouldn't mind even if I get cared for fighting what I believe.

Right. And that'd be a glorious life to me. Now home is America and I'm ready to die for this country too.

Thank you. I think when I hear this word, freedom is not free. It's very true because it took entire my family's lives for me to have this voice today because I spoke up and Kim Jong-un not only put me on his killing list, but he took entire my three generations family's lives with him. I think that's the reason why I'm warning America right now. The consequences of us standing up for truth right now is maybe losing jobs, maybe getting harassed on Twitter, getting cancer, maybe de-performed.

But that is going to go to the extent of like becoming like China, North Korea, where they're going to kill three generations family if one person descends. And I think that's why we need to fight back before it's too late. A lot of people actually even asked me like, how are you not crazy? Like, how are you saying? I mean, they somehow expect a survivor going through something like that. And then they expect us to be damaged.

And I found that very interesting. I was writing my first book, and I had an agent in New York, and she was telling me, you and me, you're traumatized. You need to go see a therapist.

So I asked like, what is therapist? Right? Like, you're North Korean. I mean, this is like fifth dimension thing. And then she's like, is somewhere you go and tell them like complaining about your feelings and how you feel so bad? So bad. And then this something called PTSD is a real thing.

You need to cure it. I asked like, is it free? I said, no, of course not. It's like, she's gonna charge you $250 for per hour.

And of course, I didn't have the money, but a second one I thought. So if I gone through all of that, and all I'm gonna doing now is gonna complaining about it, why do they even survive it like in the first place? But I think also, this is why I keep talking to people is that I think having the perspective, I mean, even knowing what trauma is, is a privilege, right? If you really, really want to talk about privilege, that's the thing. If you know you're depressed, if you know you're oppressed, even, that's a privilege. People in North Korea have does not know what oppression is. They do not know that they are oppressed. And when people say they are oppressed in America, I'm like, you do not, you are not oppressed, right?

That's not like the people who can know. So I think keeping that perspective, where I came from, and how can I be even grateful for, for this air, for this just freedom, I never have to worry about getting executed tonight. That helps. I think that's what we need in this country to keep going that keeping the perspective, that how lucky we are.

And a terrific job on the production and editing by Greg Hengler. A special thanks to Yanmi Park for sharing her story, and the Young America's Foundation for providing this story. It's so important that all Americans not only listen to this, but share it. Her dear leader in North Korea, who had promised to end inequality, well, he turned our nation, our country into a concentration camp, Yanmi said.

The enemy isn't inequality, she added, it's poverty. Her favorite books, it turns out, 1984, in Animal Farm by George Orwell. Becoming an American citizen, well, it's worth more than a billion lottery tickets. I'm living a bonus life.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-03 04:31:44 / 2023-11-03 04:44:35 / 13

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