In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom

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Born in the province of Ryanggang in North Korea, Yeonmi Park grew up close to the border with China, which was just over the banks of the Yalu River.  Her childhood was filled with hunger, deprivation, and forced allegiance to her country's Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il.  In order to help his family survive, her father began a high-stakes metal smuggling operation in Pyongyang, which led to his eventual arrest and imprisonment.  After her father returned from his time in prison, her family began planning their escape from North Korea to the unknown outside world. 

In Order to Live is the harrowing tale of her family's bid for freedom and the danger they faced along the way including the horror of human trafficking and a desperate walk across the Gobi Desert.

Note: trigger warning for sexual assault and abuse.

“North Koreans have two stories running in their heads at all times, like trains on parallel tracks. One is what you are taught to believe; the other is what you see with your own eyes. It wasn’t until I escaped to South Korea and read a translation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four that I found a word for this peculiar condition: doublethink. This is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in your mind at the same time — and somehow not go crazy. This 'doublethink' is how you can shout slogans denouncing capitalism in the morning, then browse through the market in the afternoon to buy smuggled South Korean cosmetics.”

Yeonmi Park is a Korean author and human rights activist.  Born in North Korea, she defected as a teenager and now has South Korean citizenship.  In Order to Live is her first published book and was written with the assistance of Maryanne Vollers.  

Published:  2015
Length:  273 pages
Main Settings:  Ryanggang Province, North Korea; Jilin Province, China
Secondary Setting:  Mongolia; Seoul, South Korea