Champions of Change: Yeon Mi Park

At just 23 years of age, Yeonmi Park is already making world headlines concerning her hard stand in the fight against human trafficking and activism for human rights for the people of North Korea. She fled her country in 2007 to South Korea through China to escape starvation and harsh treatment that glared on her family after the arrest of their father. She has experienced firsthand; oppression from her own government and inhuman treatments in the hands of human traffickers; the two vices that she is currently championing around the globe.
Why did she leave North Korea?
Yeon Mi was born of a well established North Korean family thanks to her well politically connected father in the capital of Hyesan. By this time he was working as a civil servant at the ruling partyís headquarters while her mother was a nurse working with the military. She was brought up in a wealthy family but only until the arrest and prosecution of her father.
During the economic slump experienced in the 1990ís, her father started a cartel that smuggled steel from Korea to neighboring China and this was the beginning of her familyís woes. He was apprehended and jailed by the dictatorial government. From then on, her family started going through hard financial times and constant discrimination from government forces and members of the public being branded the smugglers family. These are the factors that prompted them to leave North Korea for South Korea but given the harsh border relations between these two countries, they had to go through China.
The journey to South Korea
Park and her family found themselves in the hands of Human traffickers upon crossing over to china. These demanded that park serve as theirs leaderís mistress so that she could be allowed to bring her mother along. They went through a lot of oppression and harassment in the hands of these oppressors until they got a chance to escape to Mongolia. This remained the only place they could access the South Korean border where they would seek asylum to the South.
In South Korea her mother found a job as a shop assistant and she as a waitress and continued with her studies at the Dongguk University, Seoul. She has been expressing the oppression her and her family on various platforms with worldwide coverage including the Washington post, and the Guardian. She has also been hosted by TEDx and the One Young World summit, two of the worldís most influential talk forums hosting people contributing positively to making a difference in the world.
She continues to be an inspiration to many other young men and women across the world for her inspirational life experiences, selflessness, and courage. She is also a member of various non-profit organizations championing for fair treatment of the people of Northern Korea as well as the re-union of the Koreas.