North Korean defector sits down with WDRB, talks starvation, bra - WDRB 41 Louisville News

North Korean defector sits down with WDRB, talks starvation, brainwashing and human trafficking

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Unless it's news about another nuclear missile test, there's so little we seem to know about the secretive country of North Korea. 

Yeonmi Park is hoping to fill you in.

"I think that the fact that I was born in North Korea gave me a lot of perspective to see the world," she told WDRB News on Thursday.

Park was taught in school that America is evil and that North Korea's government regime should be worshiped. 

Her father was put in a labor camp for buying and selling on the black market. Her family was left at home -- starved. 

"All of I could think of at that time was not about human dignity or what is the purpose of life ... All I could think about was I'm hungry," Park said.

At the age of 13, weighing just 60 pounds, Park and her mother were smuggled into China. They figured they had nothing to lose.

But what they actually entered was a web of human trafficking, and Park was sold for sex.

"The fact that I was sold at the age of 13 ... it's not like I started a relationship with someone I really loved," Park said. "When I was in China, really I was like numb. I didn't really feel much, and I guess that's how I survived."

Eventually, she and her mother escaped that life. Crossing the Gobi Desert seeking refuge in Mongolia, they finally got to South Korea. 

Park has made it her mission to share her story of oppression and survival, and this week she is speaking to students in the University of Louisville College of Business.

"What about our fellow human beings? I think that is what I'll choose to talk about," she said. "The human story that there are people like us trapped there because of one dictator."

She's even written a book, and despite the setbacks she has been dealt in life, she has no regrets, and remains hopeful she'll one day be able to go back to a free North Korea. 

"I just hope I go home someday, visit my grandmother's grave, see my cousin again," Park said. "Just be a normal person. That's my dream."

Yeonmi Park is currently living in the U.S. She's studying economics at Columbia University. 

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