"I wasn't dreaming of freedom when I escaped from North Korea. I didn't even know what it meant to be free. All I knew was that if my family stayed behind, we would probably die--from starvation, from disease, from the inhuman conditions of a prison labor camp. The hunger had become unbearable; I was willing to risk my life for the promise of a bowl of rice."
Yeonmi Park's story of growing up in North Korea is one of deprivation, oppression, hardship, and struggle. Her escape into China when she was only thirteen is an even more harrowing tale of suffering and survival. I doubt I could have endured even half of what she went through. Reading her story made me appreciate even more the country I live in, and the freedoms I enjoy...and often take for granted. It breaks my heart to think that such terrible atrocities are still happening in the world today, and that oppressive societies like North Korea still exist. How is that even possible?
Park's unflinching memoir is both eye-opening and heart-breaking. It's also a story that everyone should read! I think what I admire most about Yeonmi Park is her courage, resilience, and inner strength; and her hope and optimism through it all. (And the fact that she loves books and reading as much as I do.) In writing this book, she says, "I am most grateful for two things: that I was born in North Korea, and that I escaped from North Korea. Both of these events shaped me, and I would not trade them for an ordinary and peaceful life ... I have seen the horrors that humans can inflict on one another, but I've also witnessed acts of tenderness and kindness and sacrifice in the worst imaginable circumstances. I know that it is possible to lose part of your humanity in order to survive. But I also know that the spark of human dignity is never completely extinguished, and that given the oxygen of freedom and the power of love, it can grow again."
Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
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