“In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom” by Yeonmi Park with Maryanne Vollers



“In Order to Live” is the true story of Yeonmi Park’s harrowing journey from North Korea, to China, Mongolia, and South Korea. Yeonmi was born in North Korea in 1993, under the ruling of Kim Jong Il. During her childhood, she and her family would go regularly without food and was made to believe the dictator could read her mind. Life in the repressive country was brutal and practically medieval. When Yeonmi’s father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black market in 2006, Yeonmi, her mother, and her sister, Eunmi, smuggled across the Yalu River to China. There at just thirteen years old, she was trafficked, assaulted, and endured hardships – including the dissapearance of Eunmi and her father’s death – that caused Yeonmi and her mother to walk across the Gobi Desert to Mongolia. A flight then took them to South Korea, where they found Eunmi. Yeonmi is currently a human rights activist and is based in the city of Seoul, as she journeyed far and had risked her life for freedom.

I choose this book because I had an interest in North Korea, and I wanted a perspective from a person who lived there. I heard of Yeonmi Park because she was popular in the news and had many interview videos on YouTube, so I was eager to read her book, “In Order to Live”. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop – I was hooked. I immediately liked how the book was divided in three parts: North Korea, China, and South Korea. I knew this was the right book for me, and after I finished it I stopped taking things for granted. I realized how easy my childhood is in America compared to the one Yeonmi had in North Korea, and I started appreciating the things and people around me.  If you want a good autobiography, “In Order to Live” is the one. It’s the best book I’ve read this year, and is one of the best I’ve read in my life.  I plan on re-reading it, and I believe once you read it, you will, too. “In Order to Live” is truly a book of its kind.

-Ashley D., 11th grade


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