Yeonmi Park is a name I am very familiar with because my fiance’s brother lives in South Korea, and she told me some of the stories he had relayed to her about what few North Koreans had actually made the long arduous journey from North Korea to South Korea via China and Mongolia. Once I heard about the labor camp horror stories I immediately went to the internet, and I tried finding out as much about North Korea as I possibly could. I wasn’t interested in what the government and the mainstream media had to say because I think it’s constantly slanted to fit whatever narrative can be exploited, but I knew there had to be something from the North Koreans about it.

Well, I was wrong for the most part. Very few people escape that hell, and not many try despite the conditions. I saw a few documentaries where Vice and others were allowed in to go on good will tours, and it was apparent to the journalists that every single thing that happened or experienced was by design, and most natives don’t want to leave which is insane to me because at one point the famine was so bad that it was not uncommon for people to eat their family or friends that died from starvation. Still, some of them finally saw the light, and would make the attempt. I learned about Yeonmi in this speech because she’s a beautiful and intelligent woman that made it out, and she was in a short documented interview on the internet that actually made me cry. She pulled a really emotional response out of me, and I was infatuated with her journey from the start of it to now so I routinely search her name, and I found an article at that told a bit about her story, but apparently she’s giving a lecture the day after her birthday at DePauw University. She is coming as a survivor, a human rights activist and to tell her story on October 5th.

Park’s family realized they were in a world of hurt when her father, who was considered upper class, was caught during the famine smuggling valuables to China to keep his family fed, and they were all shipped off to a labor camp because in North Korea the whole family gets punished. I don’t want to give too much away for anyone that has the supreme honor of meeting Ms. Park and hearing her tell the details, but she will speak on the horrors of smuggling, the death of her father and the miraculous reunion with her sister. Her goal is to make sure we all never forget how evil North Korea is, and I promise after hearing her lecture that no one ever will.