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#41 – Yeonmi Park – Escaping North Korea

Yeonmi Park is a North Korean defector, human rights activist, and the author of In Order To Live.

Mikhaila and Yeonmi discuss her incredible story of escaping North Korea, and Yeonmi’s current opinions on issues in modern eastern and western society.

Find more of Yeonmi Park in her book “In Order To Live”, also check out her social media @YeonmiParkNK on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram @yeonmi_park.

A special thank you to Ground News for supporting this week’s episode. Download the Ground News app for free at to join the fight against media bias.

This episode is also brought to you by the fantastic Murdy Creative Co. Murdy Creative Co. combines handmade processes with contemporary tools to create truly unique journals, binders, and portfolios.

Visit to check out all of their beautiful products and use code name “MP” for a free custom engraving on any product. Great journals for Christmas presents ????

Show notes:
[1:00] Yeonmi is an escaped survivor of North Korea and author of the book In Order to Live. She sits down with Mikhaila to discuss her extraordinary story and the harsh realities of everyday life in North Korea still happening today.
[3:30] Realities of living in modern North Korea.
[5:30] The North Korean religion sees the Kim family as Gods, they took many parts of other religions and created their own. With only one channel on TV, and one newspaper, and no internet there is no way to learn anything different.
[8:00] What happens if you question authority in North Korea? They have a countrywide institution called generational punishment. Three generations of a family are executed along with the offending party, sometimes even up to eight generations in extreme cases. When Kim Jong-un killed his uncle thirty thousand people were guilty by association due to this rule and sent to prison camps. This is one very effective way they demotivate any revolutionary thoughts.
[12:00] Mikhaila asks Yeonmi how she managed to catch up learning about the rest of the world after she escaped with a thirteen-year deficit in knowledge. Books were the first big key. Yeonmi lists some of her favorites as George Orwell’s Animal Farm, 1984, and Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.
[13:30] Yeonmi is now focusing her efforts to free the still twenty-five million North Koreans under the Kim Jong-un regime. “How can we keep moving forward as humanity when twenty-five million North Koreans are still in prison camps?”
[14:30] Are the unlivable conditions in North Korea something our governments can fight? Yeonmi says that things can not get any worse for the people than they are right now. Government intervention from other nations could not create worse conditions for those living there.
[19:30] North Korea is the only fully operational socialist country according to Yeonmi, They hold elections every five years but only have one guy to vote for. They create the illusion of democracy to make many negatives easier to swallow for citizens.
[24:00] Mikhaila asks Yeonmi what her perspective is on North American, especially in 2020 with covid and protests, after living through things most of us will never think about let alone experience.
[28:00] Capitalism, private property, and private businesses are all illegal in North Korea.
[30:00] Yeonmi shares anecdotes about the very real reach and amount of control the Chinese communist party has over its citizens. Kim Jong-un is enabled through funding and supplies by the Communist Party of China.
[35:00] Mikhaila asks what it was like coming to America after having all these terrible experiences.
[44:00] Some personal negative experiences Yeonmi has encountered with America’s current social justice and political correctness. “I was a slave, I know what it was like to be a slave. People were judging based only on appearance.”
[47:00] Yeonmi shares her experience studying at Columbia University.
[48:30] Learning to trust people and men again after being a sex slave is difficult. She says that many times she has to take a purely rational approach to relationships because of the deep impact of past trauma. “How you feel doesn’t always matter with how things work.” Moving on with life requires a focus on rationalization when negative emotion is threatening to be overwhelming.
[54:00] Yeonmi reiterates her concerns with human rights.” In North Korea, no one has the right to be a human other than Kim Jong-un.” She urges us not to give up hope on influencing change by fighting for the rights of so many people.
[55:00] Read Yeonmi Park’s amazing story in her book In Order To Live, also check her out on social media @YeonmiParkNK on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Instagram @yeonmi_park