North Korean Refugee Park Yeon-mi, Chinese Netizen Reactions

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From NetEase:

The Life of a Young North Korean Woman After Escaping to South Korea

Combining reports from The Daily Telegraph and other media, North Korean refugee Park Yeon-mi was born in 1993, is 21 years old, and a third year college student. In 2009, she along with family passed through many places to go from North Korea to South Korea. In the five years since, she has lived in South Korea‘s capital of Seoul and is currently studying law at Dongguk University. However, 15 years ago, she lived with her parents and younger sister in Hyesan, the capital of Ryanggang province in North Korea’s north.

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Park Yeon-mi is now a minor celebrity, often taking television interviews wearing a smile, as well as using Facebook, Twitter, Skype, WeChat and other tools to interact with various countries’ netizens on social media. She also often tours various countries, telling people about those complex memories and stories that happened around her.

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Next month, Park Yeon-mi will be going to the annual World Youth Leadership Summit in Dublin, the capital of Ireland, where she’ll meet former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Irish rock and roll singer Bob Geldof, world circumnavigator Ellen MacArthur, and other famous individuals.

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In Seoul, South Korea’s capital where Park Yeon-mi is about 50 kilometers away from the North Korean border, surrounded by high-rise buildings, luxury cars everywhere, and ten-lane highways… When she gets caught up in remembering the past, she always feels as if she has gone to another planet.

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“I am currently in university, studying law. I feel like I am a different person now. When I was in North Korea, no one would ask me, ‘what do you think’, ‘what do you want to do in the future’, ‘what is your dream’. Now, I have free will.”

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Park Yeon-mi was born 1993 October 4th in Hyesan in the north of North Korea near the North Korean and Chinese border. In the second year after her birth, 82-year-old North Korean founding leader Kim Il-Sung died from illness. Photo is of Park Yeon-mi attenting a conference.

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Park Yeon-mi also has a little sister. Her father was a government civil servant in Hyesan city. During the worst years of the 1990s, her father relied on secretly selling precious metals to scratch out a living, up until 2002 when her father was sentenced to prison for “illegal conduct”.

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Three years later in 2005, Park Yeon-mi’s father was “fortunately” able to get out of prison because of intestinal cancer. Park Yeon-mi remembers when she saw her father and how he no longer looked as he once did. The little girl wearing the white top in the photo was Park Yeon-mi when she was 12 years old at the time.

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Another two years later in 2007, Park Yeon-mi’s little sister secretly left North Korea, and her family had no choice but to follow in search of her. Park Yeon-mi remember her and her father crossing three mountains, a river, passing through many places for two years before arriving in Mongolia in 2009, and afterward South Korea. Throughout it all, they found no sign of her younger sister. In 2008, Park Yeon-mi’s father died from illness, 45 years old at the time.

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16-year-old Park Yeon-mi and her mother started a new life in South Korea. At first, they worked as a salesperson and service staff, their income allowing Park Yeon-mi to return to school. At present, Park Yeon-mi is already a third-year student at Korea’s Dongguk University. In April this year, Park Yeon-mi was reunited with her long-lost younger sister.

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Park Yeon-mi says that in the three years since 2011 when North Korean leader Kin Jong-il passed away, she and her mother have found it hard to believe it to be true, having thought of Kim Jong-il as a leader like a god. Park Yeon-mi hopes to continue her studies in the United States after graduation, to study her favored field of international relations. She hopes to work in the United Nations’ humanitarian organs in the future, and contribute what she can.

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Park Yeon-mi told the reporter that she and her family have a very good life now, “I hope I can return to North Korea one day, to rebury my father in our homeland, even if it has to be my children who will do this for me.” However, she feels it it is very difficult to imagine when this day will come.

Comments from NetEase:

未闻慰问唯闻维稳 [网易广东省佛山市网友]:

North Korean refugee Park Yeon-mi. In 2009, she along with family passed through many places to go from North Korea to South Korea.
When she gets caught up in remembering the past, she always feels as if she has gone to another planet.
“I feel like I am a different person now.”
Park Yeon-mi finally went from hellish North Korea to heavenly South Korea.
——————————————–
This story tells us: Cosmetic plastic surgery changes lives/fate/destiny.

罔易有态度 [网易天津市网友]:

Very pretty. If she lived in North Korea, she would’ve been a slave all her life.

无人相伴 [榜上有名]:

[Kim Jong-un?] saw her picture and cried for three days in his bed, then…

柳岩姐姐 [网易湖北省荆州市网友]:

Female bangzi generally have big breasts, where even those in North Korea where they can’t get enough to eat are big. Looks like [most Korean women having big breasts] isn’t an idle boast.

一言九頂 [网易陕西省西安市网友]:

My grand-uncle was a Nationalist soldier, and has been dead many years now. He used to come back every year and bring a lot of money with him, and in the 90s, he had bought a coach bus for his nephew to drive!

真理粉碎机 [网易湖北省荆门市网友]:

“Park Yeon-mi says that in the three years since 2011 when North Korean leader Kin Jong-il passed away, she and her mother have found it hard to believe it to be true, having thought of Kim Jong-il as a leader like a god.” — This planet is not necessarily all part of the human world, there’s also hell. When the ordinary common people are made into slaves, that’s when you can become a “god”!

空亦空 [网易广西网友]:

When she gets caught up in remembering the past, she always feels as if she has gone to another planet.
Now, I have free will.

走走道就疯 [网易广东省肇庆市网友]:

First order of business upon reaching South Korea was to get cosmetic surgery.

家在左海边 [网易福建省福州市网友]:

Only when there is a leader like a god can you have a people like dogs.

从未降入丙级 [网易吉林省长春市网友]:

Not as pretty as Ri Sol-ju.

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  • Jay K.

    she getting that shoulder lean! BTW first!

  • mr.wiener

    I wonder when the shit will finally hit the fan in North Korea…or whether they will actually outlast us all?

    • Sum Ting Wong

      China will do its best to make sure it will not happen. The massive influx of refugees will kill China’ economy for years.

      • Irvin

        Nah, it will provide many chinese men with wives with only a bag of rice.

        • Sum Ting Wong

          haha. I’m sure the hungry North Korean women will want more than a bag of rice when they see a McDonald’s restaurant.

      • ClausRasmussen

        China have more or less told South Korea that they would be fine with Seoul taking over North Korea

        In today’s world, North Korea is not an asset to the Chinese

        • Sum Ting Wong

          NK may not be an asset to China but the last thing China wants is refugees and US tanks and missiles stationed at the border. Remember SK is still a US ally and China didn’t fight the Korean War for nothing.

          • ClausRasmussen

            China certainly doesn’t want a new Korea war. The prospect of a South Korean takeover was part of a discussion about what to do in case of a collapse of the North Korean regime

            My guess is that there also is a tacit understanding that the US will withdraw its troops after the reunification, so there will be no Marines at the Gates either

  • AbC

    Best comment:
    [Kim Jong-un?] saw her picture and cried for three days in his bed, then…
    Finally, a new alternative theory for his sudden absence in public life. Makes more sense than all the sick, broken leg, house-arrest… stories.

  • SongYii

    Something about this story I intuit is inauthentic…. I am reluctant to believe a girl in early adulthood can walk away from NK and be rehabilitated in

    years, go to college, learn English, study law, appear so healthy and happy. Something just isn’t right about this.

    Also… the book is called “Dear Reader”…. is that a joke? Like “I’m so ronrey”?

    • Toasty

      The book is real. Its an unofficial autobiography of Kim Jong Il. The title is a play on words as the North Koreans referred to him as ‘Dear Leader’

      But agree with you on the rest, something is fishy about it. There is a great book called ‘Nothing to Envy’ about North Koreans who made it to the south. most of it is about their time in the North, but there are also chapters about when they get to the South. They have big troubles fitting in and never fully settle. They generally end up at the very bottom of society.

      • David

        Even on KoreaBang there are stories of NK citizens who make it to SK and your right, often the men have had to do years of manual labor (at slave wages) to make the trip long trip to SK and most of the women talk about how they have had to resort to prostitution. Now hopefully she was young enough where she was protected from this, but I would not bet on it. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with trying to erase several years of horror from your mind and not sharing it with strangers.

        • SongYii

          Its not about what she says happened in NKorea… she just appears to be a completely normal Korean girl from the suburbs of Busan or where-ever, flashing piece signs and wearing form-fitting dress. It doesn’t look to me like she suffered some monumental struggle. You can see that in people who do. They can’t hide it. The article says she was

          when she escaped, but the story doesn’t even make sense… they walked around for a while looking for the sister and oops, found themselves in Mongolia? What? How did they get to SK from there? Can’t just waltz around in Russia or China.

          • guest

            According to http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/yeon-mi-park-the-hopes-of-north-koreas-black-market-generation/2014/05/25/dcab911c-dc49-11e3-8009-71de85b9c527_story.html

            She was

            (2007) when she was out of North Korean territory, and

            (2009) when she arrived in Mongolia which kind of adds some truth to her story as the Chinese regard North Koreans entering China as illegal economic immigrants and not as refugees.

            As for showing signs of monumental struggle I would say its hard to tell, not all people who have do show signs of it when they are in public, yes their are signs if you know what to look out for but its not always observed. A real life example to me was a good friend at university, she appeared outgoing and quite normal in groups but in private when are guard was down she was depressed, it turned out that as a teenager her grandfather abused her.

          • SongYii

            Ah, the story above says 19…

            makes my expectations somewhat different.

          • Lwcasu

            Some people who escape, escape from the prison camps, while others escape from everyday life. There is going to be a mental state of difference between these two types of people.

          • don mario

            she was young enough to be able to integrate with the new culture maybe? and she seems pretty positive. doesn’t seem like that much of a big deal, it probably just feels sugar coated to us because of the way its presented.. in a asian media type of way.

          • Shinnokina

            why do you think that it is abnormal she is happy now? Do you expect North Korean refugees to live their lives crying and looking haggard and unhappy? She escaped to live a happy life. Why would anyone want to escape if they continue to be haunted by memories. It’s all up to you if you allow your memories to hurt you and you become depressed. It’s all about strong will and mindset. She decided to be happy. What the hell is wrong with that?

          • SongYii

            I don’t think its abnormal, I think it suspicious.

            This is not a girl who grew up in a ghetto of a developed country and always looked up the street toward a better life. She grew up in a totalitarian state where a great amount of the population barely has enough food to eat and the outside world was essentially non-existent. Movement is restricted, people are jailed at the whim of officials. This is world apart from the “she decided to be happy so everything turned out ok” scenario you are talking about.

          • Dick Leigh

            What is she supposed to do? Wallow in self-pity? Though the article didn’t say anything, I bet you she has South Korean friends and they helped her assimilate.

          • Toasty

            For those that manage to get out, escaping the North is only half the journey. The Chinese have many pacts with North Korea so if they find them they will send them back. The escapees must travel through China to another country (often Mongolia) where they can surrender to the authorities who will then send them to South Korea.

          • SongYii

            I lived in Shenyang for a year, and there were an awful lot of North Koreans there. There is even a Korean semi-autonomous region in eastern Liaoning where some local officials are North Korean… do you know anything about that? Curious…

          • Dax

            A lot of North Koreans who defect to the South go through Mongolia. China sends you back to NK if they catch you, but once you cross the border into Mongolia, you just turn yourself in to the Mongolian border patrol and the take you to the South Koran embassy, who puts you on a plane to Seoul.

          • SongYii

            Gawd dang Mongorians.

      • SongYii

        I realized it was a play on Dear Leader, but it also happens to match the Korean-ization of the “leader.” :-D

      • Sophia Dalke

        I hate to be superficial, but I think a fair amount has to do with her being young and pretty. Being young she is more pliable and adaptable, and being pretty more people will be willing to cut her breaks and try to help her (as well as use her as a really great symbol/figurehead). Older and less photogenic refugees will not have these advantages. So I think this whole scenario is entirely congruent, though it’s not demonstrating anything necessarily positive about humanity.

        • aasdf34sdf

          Truth. The reason I even read/clicked on this article is because she looks so assimilated/normal, probably because she fits the image of young/pretty/well-dressed, in Korean society.

      • cb4242

        I wonder how much of her face is actually real.

    • Lwcasu

      I have a friend who Voluntarily went to Seoul on her weekends to teach this girl English for free. This is a true story.

      • SongYii

        Don’t worry, guys, this guy on the internet told me that his friend used to teach her for free. So…. definitely true story.

        • Lwcasu

          Why, don’t you be more constructive and ask me to explain to you more instead of trying to boast your insignificant ego. I can ask her questions and get more information on the story.

    • Renjick

      Haha really, it’s fishy because she’s happy and healthy rather than miserable and ugly. Amazing.

    • http://yoursexycousinrex.tumblr.com/ Your Sexy Cousin Rex

      It’s “inauthentic” only because she doesn’t fit your stereotype of a poor miserable NK peasant girl

      =S

      • SongYii

        Well, it also makes me think maybe she ISN’T a peasant girl. Her dad was a (corrupted?) civil servant? So maybe she was living in the top 5% of NKoreans. But the story doesn’t just say, it just says she wandered around a while and found herself in Mongolia and then whisked away to law school.

        Chinese garbage news, I guess.

        • Insomnicide

          Well actually it’s not Chinese garbage news as this was first picked up by several western media outlets reporting on North Korean defectors. I watched an interview on Australian TV several months ago of her telling her story.

          • SongYii

            whether or not the story is authentic has nothing to.do with the quality of the reporting. i think the reporting is garbage, not the subject. :-)

          • takasar1

            constructively elaborate

          • SongYii

            There are very few details, more questions than answers, the information is very general. (A lot of articles translated on chinasmack are like this.) This story has photos that have mostly nothing to do with what’s written.

            Maybe chinasmack just prefers these types of articles.

          • takasar1

            ive noticed chinasmack doesnt often upload ‘opinion’ pieces or editorials. it is mostly fluff pieces or generic and obvious matters (anniversaries, disasters etc) that people seem to randomly comment on. you wont find any analysis on this story.

          • Alex Dương

            How often do editorials from The Guardian or The Daily Telegraph trend in the UK?

          • takasar1

            thats the point genius. China smack only translates what is trending, not what is important

          • Alex Dương

            Then were you surprised when you “noticed” that cS “doesnt often upload ‘opinion’ pieces or editorials”?

          • takasar1

            not really. I learnt to read disclaimers and ‘about’ pages well before you became a moderator hack for a translation website. thus allowing me to notice such things beforehand

          • Alex Dương

            Yet you still feel the need to point this out, as if it were not obvious. And if you don’t like what cS does, hey, you’re free to go somewhere else. You choose to comment here.

          • takasar1

            I was simply replying to the above commenter. telling him/her in other words that cs caters to those who wish to know what is trending, not those who want to hear the chinese version of the goings on in their own economic backyard. seriously, get off of your high horse, stop being so defensive, I couldn’t care less what cs says or doesn’t say. doesn’t interest me. and like everyone else here, I am a bored former expat/student who chooses to comment in a highly snarky and sarcastic manner. if you don’t like that, you’re free to reply to someone else. you choose to engage in a pointlessly unnecessary conversation with me.

          • Alex Dương

            That’s actually not what you said, and I find it more than a bit amusing to be told that I am being “defensive” when you took a swipe at both me and cS, even though I did nothing more than ask you a question. I did not attack you, and I did not insult you. If you’re having a bad day, well, I’m not sorry, but take it easy nonetheless.

          • Kai

            Consider there were misunderstandings involved here.

            I think Alex misunderstood your reply to Sean.

            I may be more familiar with your commenting history than Alex is and IIRC, I remember you defending cS explaining to others that cS translates what’s trending, not necessarily what people subjectively think is interesting or important. I know you get what cS is about, so I would’ve interpreted your reply to Sean as you explaining why many articles on cS don’t have analysis or have “few details, more questions than answers,” and “the information is very general”.

            It would appear Alex thought you were criticizing cS for not translating opinion articles and editorials (which we have, when they trend), and that’s why he responded by suggesting that opinion articles and editorials don’t often trend and thus don’t appear on cS.

            From his misinterpretation, he wasn’t engaging in an “unnecessary conversation” with you. I think he simply thought you were yet another guy who hasn’t made their peace with cS’s editorial mission.

            Of course, since you have, you felt he was telling you something you already know. You also don’t see how you said anything to suggest you didn’t.

            If I may be so bold, take another look at your initial reply to Sean and how Alex may have reasonably misunderstood it the way he did. Consider the context of the unfolding conversation as he beheld it: Sean expressing criticism of the article and you replying by saying they’re “fluff pieces and obvious matters” and that he “won’t find any analysis on this story”.

            I hope you can see how Alex could’ve easily seen that as you agreeing with Sean’s complaints versus “telling him/her in other words that cs caters to those who wish to know what is trending”.

            If, for example, you had replied with something like: “cS doesn’t prefer those articles, they’re just the ones that trend”, I highly doubt Alex would’ve responded to you the way he did, right?

            Forgive me for this play-by-play attempt at mediation. I’m doing it because both of you guys not only get what cS is about but have pointed it out to others before, so it’s unfortunate for you two to be insulting each other over a simple misunderstanding. I also don’t recall you two clashing in the past (over topics or personality) and I can’t think of any ideological differences between you two off the top of my head… so I think maybe it was a bit rash of you to throw “moderator hack” at Alex. I mean, does he have a comment history suggesting him being a “hack”, moderator or otherwise?

          • Don’t Believe the Hype

            important by whose standards?

          • http://twitter.com/joexu Joe

            I don’t think anyone wants to read editorials from Global Times or People’s Daily

          • takasar1

            western outlets disagree, where do you think they get most of their info from, seeing as Western journalists aren’t allowed in certain places

          • http://twitter.com/joexu Joe

            Do you honestly think Western journos take Global Times and Pdaily editorials seriously? As for where they get their info, they actually get it from Weibo and mainstream articles.

          • Kai

            Some Western journalists (and audiences) do take GT and PD editorials seriously, especially if they make for a good story/narrative. It’s also true that Western media gets a lot (not sure I’d say “most”) of their info or stories from such editorials, especially the more controversial ones involving nationalistic propaganda. That said, yeah, they get lot of their stories from Weibo and mainstream news as well.

            I think you guys are arguing different things that are both arguably valid.

          • Don’t Believe the Hype

            you have to consider the audience. these are trendy because the mainlanders apparently like this “fluff,” im guessing because it distracts from their otherwise pointless existence.

          • takasar1

            you have to consider the audience. these are trendy because chinasmack users apparently like reading this “fluff”, im guessing because it distracts from their otherwise sad and pointless existences’.

            fixed.

          • Don’t Believe the Hype

            nice word replacement, means nothing. cS users are typically interested in what is trending on the mainland, whether it is fluff or not is irrelevant

          • Kai

            Aw shucks, emphasizing mainlanders isn’t really fair. Everyone in the world likes “fluff”. It’s so, fluffy.

          • SongYii

            I wish once a week they would publish a serious opinion piece or investigative report….something with more substance, just once a week. There is value in these netease stories, but sometimes I see the headline for the new story and just close the tab.

          • takasar1

            yeah…i agree. it gets to a point where you know a) how chinese netizens will react and b) how us expats/students (etc) will react to their comments just by reading the title of the article. it does get mundane. personally i would love to read an economic piece by xinhua or GT, especially since 2/3 years ago, ‘reform’ became a by-word for the chinese economy and therefore no one is really all that anal about it anymore. in fact, from the ones i’ve read (in xinhua), their analysis is amazingly astute. ample and even more ‘capitalist’ than SCMP. it really proves that there exists a strong left-wing voice within the ccp, contrary to what most believe (or have been led to believe). the diplomat, wsj, ft, national interest and many other blogs/papers get a lot of their factual and opinion-related info from xinhua. as long as one can sort out the governmental bullsh*t from the real analysis, you should be okay. anyone who can stomach and manuever through cnbc should have no problem.

            but CS is probably looking to increase hits and traffic, its understandable they go for the angle that they do.

          • Kai

            People tend to overestimate our desire to “increase hits and traffic”. We mostly gets hits and traffic because the stuff that is trending TENDS to attract attention anyway, not because we consciously set out to find the most sensationalistic stories in order to increase hits and traffic.

            We frankly do a lot of things that DECREASE our hits and traffic.

            For one thing, translation is really time and effort-intensive. It would be much easier to just report sensationalistic stuff through summary instead of bothering to translate everything. Our traffic would be much higher if we operated like a regular gossip/tabloid blog and went for “good enough” reporting of details that is way more time-efficient. We could output a lot more content.

            For another, our adoption of Disqus was a significant blow to our traffic volume because commenters no longer needed to reload a page in order to see new replies.

            We also try to minimize the number of “clicks” you need to do to navigate our site, which also means less traffic to boast about.

            Don’t get me wrong, we do want more hits and traffic for cS, but I’d say we have a clear editorial mission that doesn’t put “increasing hits and traffic” as a top priority. It is more a byproduct of the editorial mission than it is an editorial goal.

    • Anonymous

      I am S. Korean and have lived in Europe, China and Canada. Previously, I encountered with a few N. Koreans and refugees from N. Korea.

      I am not sure the girl in the article is true or not, but some I met personally are healthy and happy just like you and me. They play sports, watch TV and play computer games. They can speak English and other foreign languages. Normally, their parents are well educated or have decent jobs. The girl’s dad worked for the government.

      If you are lucky and get help, you can escape from N. Korea and China easily and safely. Once you are successfully enter foreign embassies and consulates in China, you are safe but have to live there for a while. I have seen refugees in a Korean embassy in Shanghai. One family had lived in a basement for a few years.

    • NeverMind

      I came across a much more authentic account on Reddit – Ask Me Anything. The North Korean lady escaped from her country after her dad who was a government official was nabbed for corruption. She now lives in Macau and is a ‘working girl’. I wish that lady was featured on the interwebs more, instead of this girl.

      As per some of her answers, most of us are also sort of a ‘little brainwashed’ to believe that everything we hear in our media reports about NK is the truth.

      Link: reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1gs1wt/iama_woman_born_in_north_korea_ama/

      • Paul Schoe

        Nice article, thanks. Particularly the Questions & Answers give a refreshing view of North Korea.

        However, I do not see why this woman’s story is more ‘authentic’ then the one in this article. It clearly has a lot more details and is done by soembody who was more mature when she fled. But I don’t see why this story cannot be authentic as well.

        • NeverMind

          I agree that there is no concrete proof. It was just my gut feeling that the lady on Reddit might be more authentic when I connect the dots. The lady above seems a little superficial, but I can never be sure.

      • SongYii

        mm, well, i think the stuff we hear about NK is generally true. but i have no problem believing its not the whole picture.

      • Don’t Believe the Hype

        Interesting Q&A, but I’m guessing North Korea is actually worse than most people think. Also, even this girl, who grew up in a relatively well-off household, admits that there are people starving and miserable, so i can’t see how any of this is brainwashing

        • NeverMind

          I am not a fan of North Korea. But, it seems you must have missed some parts. She also says that there are many North Koreans who live normal lives just like any other human beings. They go to the park, paint, sing, work, dance and have families. She is from a well off family but she is not the ‘supreme leaders’ daughter that she has no contact with anyone outside her circle. She says that there might be people starving in some villages outside PongYang and that some of her relatives are poor. But, she doesn’t say there is mass starvation everywhere and the few people we see healthy are actually ‘paid actors’ (as stated in our news reports).

          • Don’t Believe the Hype

            There is only one possible explanation then…she’s an actress

      • misanthropytoday

        Yeah we’re totally brainwashed, NK is such a great place that even the top 5% would rather fuck mainland tourists in Macau than stay in their home country.

        I’m sure NK was ok for her since her dad was a corrupt official, and I doubt she knows how the rest of NK lives just like the daughter of a corrupt official doesn’t know how the average Chinese person lives.

        • NeverMind

          It is not that NK is such a great place, it might be a very bad place. But, I wonder why we have never ever seen a single good thing reported about NK on any news media. How is it that a country of millions have not a single good thing about them ever happening? Every news article tends to make millions of North Koreans look brainwashed, foolish, weak and somehow incapable of being ‘happy’ in any way. You might hate their government but why believe millions of people are so naive that they need us to tell them what is good for them?

          It is a form of a superiority complex which makes us think that we need to liberate people who live differently than us.

    • chucky3176

      She’s part of the South Korean TV show participant panel about the women
      and men who came from North Korea. 75% of North Korean defectors in South Korea are women because the men have to serve

      years in the military, and most of the North Korean women are able to cross into China because they are in high demand by Chinese brokers to be sold as sex slaves in China. The unsuspecting North Korean women are promised to be taken to China, but as soon as they are in China, they are sold off. Each week, new North Korean women are introduced to the TV show panel where they talk about their lives in North Korea, how they escaped, what it was like to live in NK, and what it’s like to adjust to living in South Korea. It is not unusual as you think it is, since there are now almost 30,000 North Korean refugees living in South Korea. I’ve personally have known hundreds of women just like her since I was a volunteer helping them to learn English and to adjust to South Korean life. Each and every single one of them had their own tale of sad stories to tell. You can even see this show in Chinese video portal sites like Todou and Youku where they are uploaded every week.

      http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNjk4NDcwNDcy.html

      http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/dbD0xlC1pUc

  • 금정산

    I’m not sure if she has the understanding of global economics and politics to decide if her values are aligned to that of Freedom Factory and Casey Lartigue.

    I did some reading on Freedom Factory and Casey Lartigue and found they are advocates and supporters of economic liberalism. Not that this is anything terrible; the problem is these people obviously have their own motivations. I worry she doesn’t know what she is representing and is being taken advantage of.

    She was fortunate enough to have been selected and paid well for appearances on SK talk programs for her pretty (albeit cosmetically enhanced looks). Listen to the stories from other defectors – her story is a breeze in comparison. I hope she is smart enough to use this fortune wisely, doesn’t get manipulated by others and finds her own values.

    • Insomnicide

      Isn’t that all political media? Just a layer of false sincerity and charity to mask how they convey their own agenda.

  • Sum Ting Wong

    ‘Park Yeon-mi’s little sister secretly left North Korea, and her family had no choice but to follow in search of her.’

    there must be a lot lost in between these two lines. Anyway, it can be a great screenplay for a hollywood blockbuster.

  • MeiDaxia

    Why don’t the names on the picture match up with the names in the story?

    • 금정산

      Her real name is 박연미, her alias for the show 이제 만나러 갑니다 is 박예주. I’m not sure why she and one other girl from the show (that I am aware of) chose to use aliases – it could be that their birth names are very common.

      • Tova Rischi

        You’re probably aware, but North Korea follows a “3 generations” rule. So counting three generations back from her, they would imprison all family members equally for any crime that could amount to treason. If she had any cousins whatsoever, or grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. let alone immediate family members – they’d be in the gulag for her crime. Likely not a single one of them is the same name for that person – and Park Yeonmi is just as likely a false name.

  • Amused

    People really like hating on this broad.

  • Jahar

    Uh, who are you talking about? none of the posters here said anything about plastic surgery (other than one guy commenting on one of the netease comments).

    • Alex Dương

      How about these two comments?

      One
      Two

      • Jahar

        At the time I read her post the only comment about plastic surgery was the one i mentioned. Of the ones you linked to, one is gone, and the other just links to the page, not a comment. I can only assume they were posted after she posted hers.

  • Irvin

    indeed, bra these days is like a bag of potato chips, it looks big and puffy but when you open it you’ll realized half of it is just air.

  • ClausRasmussen

    >> Where in this post does it mention plastic surgery?

    The Chinese commentors bring it up twice

    It is a standing joke on the Chinese internet to associate South Korea with plastic surgery, much like Japan is associated with AV stars, and England with gay people

    It is just lighthearted fun mixed up with a little bit of envy

  • FYIADragoon

    Really hard for them to wrap their heads around the concept that a woman can be attractive with just a bit of makeup and a stylist. Surprising that they don’t say the same things about Taiwan.

    • Insomnicide

      It’s a common joke among Asians about how much plastic surgery Koreans get.

    • takasar1

      not really. its a common joke amongst asians. the south koreans do have the best plastic surgeons fora reason

  • 금정산

    I agree that there are more important details to talk about than her looks. But the issue of surgery is relevant to her adaption to life in South Korea because it shows her transition to a new person; and it shows the pressure of female beauty standards in the south which female defectors are newly subject to

  • Renjick

    And I thought some of the comments reeked of bitterness but looking on here, sheesh. LOL, talk about butthurt.

  • Brett

    The girl with the nametag in the pictures says “Park Yeju” not “Park Younmi”.

  • Guest

    It’s “inauthentic” only because she doesn’t fit your stereotype of a poor miserable NK peasant girl

  • http://yoursexycousinrex.tumblr.com/ Your Sexy Cousin Rex

    why does the article translate her name as 朴银美/Park Yeon Mi when 银=Eun and thus her name should be Park Eun Mi. Unless her real name is actually Park Yeun Mi, then the translation should probably be 朴年美 etc. Anyways, meanwhile in another photo, her nametag shows her as Park Ye Joo lol wtf.

    I guess these elements describe well her identity crisis as a North Korean trying to adapt to the life in South Korea o.o

  • Taojessy

    I find it super sad that most of the Chinese comments have to do with her looks rather than her story.

    • SongYii

      There’s hardly any information about her story… its mostly photos of her posing and looking cute.

    • Doge Wallace

      If it wasn’t for her looks we wouldn’t be hearing her story.

  • JayJay

    So does she still revere the Dear Leader and the Dear General??? The article is not that clear.

    • https://www.youtube.com/user/DavidisDawei/videos DavidisDawei

      I’ve listened to several of her interviews and she has described growing up in North Korea. She used to believe everything that was taught to her growing up, including that the Great Leader having supernatural abilities and could read her mind. She would get very scared when negative thoughts would enter her mind.
      IMO, She is sincere. She seems to be grateful to be out, but still struggles internally with her current reality.
      She says she no longer believes what was indoctrinated, but it must be like growing up Catholic…at some point, you realize there is no invisible man watching everything you do, but it does not mean those “fears” completely go away.

  • jin

    Another two years later in 2007, Park Yeon-mi’s little sister secretly left North Korea, and her family had no choice but to follow in search of her. 

    she was 14…. and her YOUNGER SISTER secretly left North Korea???????????

    • Z Kim

      The borders are not as sealed as you think. There are North Koreans who regularly go back and forth between China illegally.

  • Insomnicide

    The relationship between North and South Korea reminds me of the relationship between mainland China and Taiwan before the opening up and reform. There were quite a bunch of stories about Taiwanese people visiting their relatives and friends on the mainland and bringing lots of eye opening gifts.

  • YourSupremeCommander

    Can someone please tell me what in the world is a “United Nations’ humanitarian organs”?

    • Ken Morgan

      It’s just an anthropomorphism for the word department.

  • BBMayMay

    she’s cute

  • Karze

    Korean women are known for beauty. Chinese emperor and officials in the past used to get Korean women as wives and concubines.

    • takasar1

      of course they did…. and what particularly huge inferiority complex would you be sporting in this case?

      • Karze

        Nothing inferiority but admiration for beauty. In case of this North Korean girl who escaped to freedom in South Korea she not only freed herself but also trying to help those in North Korea by shedding light on the oppressive communist rule.

        • Z Kim

          DPRK is socialist.

  • persianOUTKAST

    highly disappointed w/ all the people in the comments section here. more specifically, w/ user “SongYii”. do yourself a favor, instead of criticizing everything about this story, try learning more about her, her struggle, & her fight for human rights.
    I. video interview w/ SBS Australia, Dateline: “Celebrity Defector”
    http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/watch/id/601999/n/Celebrity-Defector
    II. interview w/ The Telegraph: Escape from North Korea
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/11138496/Escape-from-North-Korea-How-I-escaped-horrors-of-life-under-Kim-Jong-il.html
    III. interview w/ Public Radio International / NPR
    http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-10-10/she-risked-her-life-defect-north-korea-now-she-wants-world-hear-her-story

  • Karze
  • norimix

    “North Korean refugee Park Yeon-mi. In 2009, she along with family passed through many places to go from North Korea to South Korea.”

    China can’t even tell the truth about how NK refugees travel through China in utter fear of being caught and being sent back to NK or being sold in to human trafficking ring..

  • Balkan

    “Only when there is a leader like a god can you have a people like dogs” Well said.

  • Vernon Alarcon Jr.

    now she only need a reel man wit a thick black snake to keep her satisfy

  • kingObing

    It’s a bit comical to read Chinese commentary on the foolishness of the NK government, China is a milder version of NK- but the two seem to be related.

  • Andy Mc Crab

    After all that girl went through she then had to meet BOB GELDOF!

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