The Yeonmi Park Story: Fact or Fiction?

Even before the release of her massively successful biography, In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey To Freedom, North Korean defector, Yeonmi Park (also known as Park Yeon-mi) has received a extraordinary amount of attention, not just in her home of South Korea but worldwide as well. And for those who are even tangentially familiar with her it is easy to see why, her tale is a unique one. After her father was imprisoned on trumped up smuggling and illegal trading charges Park’s family was left destitute and faced death from starvation so they decided upon a radical course of action – defection from North Korea. Her journey began in 2007 when she was only thirteen years of age and carried her across frozen rivers and desert wastes. She and her mother were both assisted in their flight by a human trafficker who tricked them and raped Yeonmi’s mother, next attempting to rape Yeonmi herself, but thankfully her mother intervened and convinced the man not to touch her. Thankfully they were both able to escape from China as well and make their way to South Korea where they both now currently reside.
However, many individuals have taken issue with the veracity of Ms. Park’s claims and no one has been more vocal about this than the government of North Korea. But what is the truth of matter? Is Yeonmi telling the truth or is she merely a “Puppet of the American agenda,” as North Korea would have the world believe (you can read more about that at

Well according to The Reason, to clarify several of the points of contention, Ms. Park’s first language is not English and yet this is what she used, primarily, to tell her story to the world. Thus it is very easy to understand why certain, trivial details, such as dates and names, might have changed – simply because she hasn’t master the language. Secondly, the rape of one’s own mother and narrow escape from rape oneself, are not things one would divulge lightly and so it should be easy to imagine why Ms. Park was less than forthcoming about all of the harrowing experiences she endured on her escape. When all is said and done, until some concrete example of outright lying can be present, there does not appear to be much of a reason to doubt the veracity of Park’s intriguing tale.


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