North Korea has been one of the foremost countries of massive human rights violations, and has one of the most restrictive and persecutory systems in the world. And if not for the few who successfully fled from the country, their true stories would probably never be heard.
21-year old Park Yeon studies criminal justice in Seoul, and looks, and acts like any other young woman her age, however Park is not like other young women. A native North Korean, human rights activist Yeomi Park defected from her country at fourteen, and has gained International media attention for her commitment to calls for freedom in her homeland.
Park Yeon’s Courageous Defection
In North Korea, people are not treated fairly. Freedom of expression is a dream of many, but even an international call for help often leads to a public execution. At thirteen, Yeonmi Park on nknews had to watch as her own mother was raped. Just one year later, her father died, and she buried his ashes alone in the middle of the night. Yet, in spite of the horrors she has experienced, Park Yeon finds solace in dividing her time among studying at Dongguk University, while educating the world of North Korean atrocities.
The young human rights activist gives insight into the extermination, enslavement and starving of North Koreans, as well as the denial of basic freedoms.
Contrary to the criticism of Kim Jong Un, the regime claims they are defenders of North Korean human rights. According to a UN report, and accusations from Pyongyang, the North Korean regime is responsible for forced labor, torture, corporal punishment and chronic malnutrition for about 16 million people. Moreover, it’s reported that the North Korean people are divided into a caste system, based on their potential opposition to the country.
The preferred class are allowed to reside in larger cities and nearest the state border, with state support. Yet members of the lowest class get few benefits, if any, from the state, like food stamps or medical help. With very little help, a great many North Koreans starve to death.
In 2009, human rights activists reported how disabled North Koreans were being subjected to human testing, like chemical weapons testing. Again in 2014, the subject of atrocities against the disabled was queried. Reports from refugees varied regarding parents giving up disabled children with the regimes promise to take care of them, but instead using them to test chemical weapons.
The stories about crimes against humanity are certainly not new, as they’ve been reported for decades by previous defectors, yet every account, including the plight of Park Yeon motivates us to do more.