In Order To Live by Yeonmi Park


29776980Human rights activist Park, who fled North Korea with her mother in 2007 at age 13 and eventually made it to South Korea two years later after a harrowing ordeal, recognized that in order to be “completely free,” she had to confront the truth of her past. It is an ugly, shameful story of being sold with her mother into slave marriages by Chinese brokers, and although she at first tried to hide the painful details when blending into South Korean society, she realized how her survival story could inspire others. Moreover, her sister had also escaped earlier and had vanished into China for years, prompting the author to go public with her story in the hope of finding her sister.



First things first In Order To Live is the true story of Yeonmi Park who escaped from North Korea with her mother. Yeonmi Park was born in 1993, Yeonmi is 1 year older than me! At 13 she escaped to China and at 15 finally settled in South Korea, just let that sink in for a bit, this story isn’t 50+ years old, this happened in 2007, Yeonmi is 24 years old, 24 and she’s such an amazing young woman who is now an activise and working towards helping the people of North Korea. Her story really made me really appreciate the pure privilege of being born in Australia.
This book is so emotional and I cried on the train reading about how Yeonmi felt when presenting her speech for One Young World Summit having just watched the speech and seeing how emotional and passionate she is.

Yeonmi’s story is truly inspiring and she continues to inspire and work for North Korean rights. I highly recommend reading this young girls truly incredible story and putting your life into perspective. I am so privileged and so inspired that Yeonmi has been through so much and prevailed not only to find happiness in her own life but to help others who are struggling.

“In the free world, children dream about what they want to be when they grow up and how they can use their talents. When I was four and five years old, my only adult ambition was to buy as much bread as I liked and eat all of it.”

If you don’t normally read non fictions and don’t think you’d pick this up I urge you to Youtube Yeonmi’s One Young Nation speech, listen and educate yourself on what is happening right now. This story isn’t 100 years ago! Yeonmi is our age and this is happening in our world right now.

I’ve stopped reading non fiction in the last few years and I don’t know why these stories are always so important and emotional. I can’t wait to read some more non fiction about amazing woman.

Also as AsianLitBingo is on if you’re looking for a book to cover the challenges this is:

  • Non fiction by an asian author
  • Asian Refugee MC
  • Poor Asain MC

5/5 Stars

Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? Do you have a non fiction story that really touched you and made you see yourself in a new light? 


22 thoughts on “In Order To Live by Yeonmi Park

  1. Great review for this book Casey, I’m so glad it made you feel the way you did while reading it. 🙂 I guess when it comes to books like these the writing and the story are always powerful, especially considering like you said it’s not something that happened in the long ago past but so recently.
    I don’t normally read non-fiction but I’ve been playing around with the idea of giving it a try, if I do this book will be at the top of my to-read list for sure! 😀


    1. I just had such an intense feeling while reading this but also a kind of helpless one because it’s not a one man job it’ll take many years to fix the problems. Yeonmi truly is such an amazing woman all I could think was this girl is my age, she’s a year older then me and suffered then prevailed, she’s worked hard for her people and continues to even through the slander and horrible experiences she’s but subjected to. If you do pick it up I hope you love it, non fiction isn’t for everyone I read a lot of it when I was younger so it felt so nice to break from fantasy and read her story.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I suppose considering it did happen recently-ish would that mean it would take longer to fix the problems? I can’t really say because I haven’t read the book and aren’t aware of most of the problem.
        Just from your review she sounds amazing. The fact that she’s gone through so much is astonishing. Thanks, I hope so too! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I completely agree that this isn’t some short term fix and it’s so very political it’s hard for the average person to help but I hope the world starts working towards helping the North Korean people and all the other Yeonmi’s out there that are stuck under a strict regime.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for this review! So important to raise awareness and share her story. I’m really interested in picking this up! I’m trying to read more non-fiction too right now, I don’t know why I shy away from it so much but I’m trying to overcome that (probably b/c I read sooo much academic text for school). I haven’t read it yet, but The Empathy Exams is a non-fiction book that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while that I think will be super eye-opening and insightful and is sorta relevant in the topic of emotional reads? So much to learn from non-fic, I’m glad this one was such a good experience for you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you love it when you pick it up! Just her speech on YouTube is heartbreaking and amazing. I feel a lot of people shy a way from Non fic because of stuffy school texts.
      This definitely hits all your emotions, just the helplessness I felt at not knowing how I can help and the awe for Yeonmi’s strength and what she’s endured.


    1. It’s so powerful and just really hits home how its all a chance of luck that I was born in Australia, before reading this i didnt realise how emotional her story was going to be and how much I was going to imagine myself in her place. It’s hard not to respect someone that’s been through so much and is still working towards helping others in her situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. Thank you for reviewing this book, Casey! I would never have heard of it otherwise, which would have been a shame. I don’t read much non-fiction, but most of the non-fiction I do read are memoirs. As you identified, this is a really powerful one. The last non-fiction book I read which really impacted me was Hillbilly Elegy by J D Vance. It shined a ton of light on what’s happening in rural America and helped me see my country in a new light. A different kind of powerful.

    Are you participating in Asian Lit Bingo?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve listened to JD Vances TED talk and his book is on my TBR I think I won’t be able to connect with it as much coming from the otherside of the world but it sounds interesting nonetheless 😀 I hope you really love this when you pick it up or even if you just watch her speech on Youtube she’s such a strong woman and so young it was so emotional and made me check my privilege hard, I mean Yeonmi is only a year older then me and she’s been through so much while still fighting for her cause.


  4. Hey there i enjoyed your review upon the book and if you are ever interested into looking into north korean life style there’s a south korean tv show called “Now On My Way To Meet You” Which shows north korean defectors its like half talk show half talent show half comedy i believe there are some English clips to it and i can give you a link to one of the videos if you like.


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