Book/Author:In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park
Publisher/Year: Published September 29th 2015 by Fig Tree (first published September 2015)
Genre: Non-fiction, Autobiography
Source: Borrowed from Co-worker
“Human rights activist Park, who fled North Korea with her mother in 2007 at age 13 and eventually made it to South Korea two years later after a harrowing ordeal, recognized that in order to be “completely free,” she had to confront the truth of her past. It is an ugly, shameful story of being sold with her mother into slave marriages by Chinese brokers, and although she at first tried to hide the painful details when blending into South Korean society, she realized how her survival story could inspire others. Moreover, her sister had also escaped earlier and had vanished into China for years, prompting the author to go public with her story in the hope of finding her sister.” (Goodreads)
This is a difficult book to review because it is non-fiction and knowing that someone had actually endured all these struggles makes it hard to be unemotional when evaluating the book. However, I will do my best to express my gratitude for this book and hopefully encourage you to read it as well.
This is a remarkable, eye-opening story that really puts into perspective my life growing up in Canada compared to someone in North Korea. I had a base knowledge of North Korean government and Kim Jong Il’s dictatorship, but I did not realize to what magnitude and the horrors that people, especially the women, had to face (and are still facing)! What really hit home for me was reflecting on my own childhood compared to Park’s; we are close in age — me being a bit older — and it breaks my heart to know how intensely different my childhood was.
The Park family, especially her mother and older sister, are remarkable and resilient in depressing and dismal times. A truly amazing story! Prepare for an emotional roller-coaster; you’ll be shocked, astonished, frightened, grateful, and maybe even get a bit weepy. I was constantly pausing my reading sessions to either reflect or take an emotional break –- yeah, sometimes the events explained are that emotionally heavy that you just needed to but the book down and talk a breather.
This is one of those books that I will recommend to everyone because anybody can pull inspiration from it. I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy at your local library or bookstore.
“I inhaled books like other people breathe oxygen. I didn’t just read for knowledge or pleasure, I read to live.”
“I can’t explain why, but when I was hungry, I always believed that if I wished hard enough, bread would somehow fall from the sky, my father had the same kind of optimism and hard despite the odds against him. But you need more than optimism and hard work to succeed. You also need luck…[and] despite everything that has happened to me, I have been very lucky in my life.”
“Every day the instructors challenged fundamental beliefs that had been drilled into our heard from birth.”
“I was starting to realize that you cant really grow and learn unless you have a language to grow within. I could literally feel my brain coming to life as if new pathways were firing up in places that had been dark and barren. Reading was teaching me what it meant to be alive, to be human.”
“They need to control you through your emotions, making you a slave to the state by destroying your individuality, and your ability to react to situations based on your own experience of the world.”