Wednesday, August 23, 2017

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

I saw this on @twofronteeth 's Dayre at the end of June and thought it sounded interesting so I added it to my TBR. After over a month, I finally picked it up and it is a really good (though heavy) read.

In Order to Live is a memoir of Yeonmi Park's life in North Korea and China. She was born and raised in North Korea, and for a time being, did fairly well despite her family not being part of the elites anymore.

Her father was very entrepreneurial and he managed to put food on the table. There was even a black market where they could get goods from China and DVDs of South Korean shows! But one day, he was arrested and her family suddenly struggled to survive.

The method Yeonmi and her mother took was to escape to China, which was said to have food and jobs. But even though they risked their lives to get there, China was no paradise. The women found that they would be sold to Chinese men as wives and had to live in the shadows, constantly looking over their shoulder. And yet Yeonmi managed to live on, and she eventually managed to bring her mother to South Korea, where she finally resumed her education and without intending it, ended up as the face of a movement.

This is an incredibly powerful book and I would encourage everyone to read it. North Korea is basically a boogeyman right now and Yeonmi's memoir helps to reveal what life is really like there (and let's face it, even reporters with the best intentions will not be as accurate as someone who actually grew up in North Korea). She is candid about the hardships of life and the brainwashing that goes on, but she also shows the strength that people can have even in the worst situations.

If you've ever wondered what it's like in North Korea, or why people would risk their lives to escape, or even why people haven't risen up against their Dear Leader, you have to read this book. It's not just the story of an incredible person, it's also a peek into how an entire society can be brainwashed and it gives one the hope that people can 'wake up' from the brainwashing. Trust me, you won't regret reading this.


  1. In Order to Live sounds like a very moving and powerful book. North Korea is frequently in the news here in the U.S. I like books like this, and will definitely be adding it to my wish list. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, Eustacia!

    1. Hope you get to read it soon! I think it's a valuable book to read - more so when you consider the current political situation in Asia.


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