Defector Park Yeon-mi describes plight of N. Korean people in moving speech

October 27, 2014

Park Yeon-mi, a 21-year-old North Korean defector, has called on the world to pay more attention to the plight of those suffering under the communist dictatorship, in a moving video that is circulating on the Internet.

In an emotional speech last week at the One Young World Summit in Dublin, Park spoke about her harrowing journey to the South, where she is now a human rights advocate.

“North Korea is an unimaginable country,” Park says. “There is only one channel on T.V. There is no Internet. We aren’t free to sing, say, wear, or think what we want. North Korea is the only country in the world that executes people for making unauthorized international phone calls.”

Footage of the speech posted by One Young World on YouTube has garnered over 270,000 views as of Sunday.

Through tears, Park described how, when she was nine, she saw her friend’s mother publically executed for watching a Hollywood film.

Park described defecting as a teenager. As soon as she arrived in China, she witnessed her mother being raped by the smugglers who had helped them escape. Her mother “allowed herself to be raped” so that Park wouldn’t suffer the same fate.

Park implored people to educate themselves about the humanitarian crisis in the North; help North Koreans refugees; and pressure China to change its policy of repatriating North Korean defectors. The defector also said the international community should prioritize human rights when dealing with the recalcitrant country.

“We need to focus less on the regime and more on the people who are being forgotten,” she said.