A defector from North Korea warns about the war on freedom in the West.

Incredibly there have been a few brave souls that have actually managed to escape the godless hellhole and communist concentration camp that is North Korea. One of them is 27-year old Yeonmi Park. She has told her story in the 2015 book, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom (Penguin).

Although her book has been out for a while now, her story is again in the news, as she is now warning America about what she sees happening there. Things in the US remind her too much of home! I will speak about her past life in a moment, but the reason her story is again of relevance is because she has been speaking out about her college education in particular, and the West’s utter delusion as to what life is really like.

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Woke culture and leftist indoctrination in the West is painting false pictures of reality. As someone who knows exactly what real tyranny and oppression is like, she is shocked by what is being claimed in the West, especially in our universities. Those pushing victim narratives in the West should shut up and try spending a few weeks in North Korea.

So let me briefly retrace her story. She, like millions of other North Koreans, lived with 24/7 propaganda. Only one radio station is available, and it must not be turned off. Government brainwashing is non-stop. Complete and utter control of everything one thinks and says is the norm.

And while the Communist elites live like kings, the masses are living in hellish conditions. People have to chase grasshoppers just to survive – hunger is constant, and starvation is a way of life for most people. There is no heating during the winter, and all the basic necessities of life that we Westerners take for granted are simply not found there.

As to her escape story, it started when she managed to view an illegal DVD of the 1997 movie Titanic. Watching the film made her realise what a massive lie North Korea was, and that things like freedom existed and were worth risking everything for. But simply trying to find something to eat was inducement enough for her and her family to risk their very lives with an attempt to flee.

They attempted their escape in 2007 when she was just 13 years old. They made it into China after crossing mountain ranges and frozen rivers. But while there she and her mother were forced into sexual slavery. However, with the help of Christian missionaries, she crossed the Gobi Desert to Mongolia, eventually settling in South Korea in 2009.

In 2014 she came to New York, and she published her book the next year. She attended Columbia University, and quickly became amazed at how similar things are in Western universities to what she had fled. A week ago she started to speak out about her experience in the US while at Columbia.

She told Fox News:

“I expected that I was paying this fortune, all this time and energy, to learn how to think. But they are forcing you to think the way they want you to think. I realized, wow, this is insane. I thought America was different but I saw so many similarities to what I saw in North Korea that I started worrying.”

And in an interview with Sean Hannity she said more of the same.

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There is no free speech or even free thought allowed in North Korea. So to hear about “hate speech” and “safe spaces” in the West was just so incredible to Park. She cannot believe how cavalier and ignorant Westerners are about the supreme value of freedom, including freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.

She says that if America is no longer free, there is no other place left where freedom will exist. She is shocked that Westerners actually think they are living an oppressed life. They know nothing of oppression. But she is censored on YouTube and Twitter when she tries to talk about North Korea. ‘You have to fight for freedom’ she says.

She is a brave woman. As she says in the prologue to her book:

“I am most grateful for two things: that I was born in North Korea, and that I escaped from North Korea. Both of these events shaped me, and I would not trade them for an ordinary and peaceful life.”

Her story has attracted a lot of attention. Here in Australia, she just recently did a very important 67-minute interview with former Nationals’ leader John Anderson. It certainly is a must watch.

And in the UK Peter Hitchens has just written up her story, and he too shares her warnings about how the West is trying to outdo North Korea in the brainwashing department. He says this about her time at Columbia:

Almost immediately she met the new, sweet and sticky marshmallow totalitarianism which has taken over so many Western seats of learning. A staff member ticked her off when she revealed that she enjoyed classics such as the books of Jane Austen. ‘I said, “I love those books.” I thought it was a good thing,’ she told Fox News in an interview. But the staff member replied: ‘Did you know those writers had a colonial mindset? They were racists and bigots and are subconsciously brainwashing you.’


After encountering the new requirement for the use of gender-neutral pronouns, she concluded ‘Even North Korea is not this nuts… North Korea was pretty crazy, but not this crazy.’ She came to fear that making a fuss would affect her grades and her degree. Eventually, she learned to keep quiet, as people do when they try to live under intolerant regimes, and let the drivel wash over her.


Anyone who has lived through the past two years in this country, especially the takeover of the National Trust by radicals, and the increasingly politically correct behaviour of major universities, will know that her account has the ring of truth. But what is important is that a survivor of North Korean terror is saying it. She is not claiming that the modern West is like the thuggish Kim regime. 


She is saying that we willingly give in to what has to be forced on to Koreans by police terror, sealed borders and labour camps. And we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. As Ms Park says, at least North Koreans, who live under a regime of brainwashed fear and who are forcibly isolated from all news of the outside world, have an excuse for believing the mad bilge pumped out by their government. We don’t.


‘North Koreans, we don’t have the internet, we don’t have access to any of these great thinkers, we don’t know anything. But here, while having everything, people choose to be brainwashed. And they deny it.’ She warns: ‘You guys have lost common sense to a degree that I as a North Korean cannot even comprehend.’

This is a strong warning to the West from someone who knows exactly what she is talking about. In the same way,  other prophetic voices have sought to do the same. Back in 1976 Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s book, A Warning to the West was released, seeking to do similar sorts of things.

But he too was largely ignored, and his words for the most part rejected. I fear that will likely also be the fate of Yeonmi. So I for one will seek to share her story far and wide. I am thankful others are doing so as well. But we all need to get the word out, so please share this far and wide, thanks.


Yeonmi is not a Christian, but she says she is searching, and she is sending her son to church. Please keep her in your prayers that she does come to know Christ and experiences the ultimate liberation: the liberation from sin and self, and deliverance into the glorious liberty of the Kingdom of God.

This article was first published here on Bill Muehlenberg’s Culture Watch.

You can buy the book here to learn more.

Bill Muehlenberg teaches ethics, apologetics and theology at several Melbourne Bible Colleges. His independent blog, Culture Watch, has over 5,000 articles commenting on the major cultural, social and political issues of the day. Bill's podcast is exclusively produced for Good Sauce readers and fans.

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