Review: In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park

For North Koreans life is very different to those of us who live in the rest of the world. Citizens worship their leader, social media is banned, families are so poor that they often go without food, and secrets must be reported to officials. And then there are the labour camps, public executions, untrained medical staff and the desperate attempts for survival. For many years the world has been unable to discover what really happens beyond the border - until now.

Yeonmi Park's story of escape and survival is intriguing, harrowing and touching. with the turn of every page I was shocked to discover how North Koreans live, and the memories she recounts left me so shocked I kept on calling my husband over to share these details with him. How Park and her family managed to escape to China is an amazing journey alone. Then there are the men who threaten to send them back, sell them to single farmers as slave workers, and then there the rapings...

Upon escaping to South Korea, life became even worse before it improved. Officials threatened to send her back to North Korea, she had no home, didn't speak the language, and struggled in the mainstream schooling system. Having the freedom to make her own decision when ordering a coffee, or sharing her opinion was beyond her understanding - in North Korea your opinion is not asked for. Today Park is an educated young women living a somewhat normal life in New York but the memories still remain. Sharing her story has put a target on her back with North Korean officials, but it has also given the rest of the world an insight into the daily lives of North Korean citizens. 

Once you start reading Park's story, you won't be able to put the book down. While there is much sadness to her story, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Rating: ★★★★

Hardback RRP $49.99 | Paperback RRP $32.99. Published by Penguin.