A nonfiction book that reveals the harrowing circumstances Park Yeonmi and her family have gone through as North Koreans looking for freedom.
In Order To Live is not just a woman’s call for change, it is an eye-opener about the crimes against humanity that are to this very day carried out in the world.
Read if you like: memoirs, stories about freedom & resilience, books set in multiple countries, North Korean refugee stories, books that depict harsh realities
This is the first book I picked up for the Korean March readathon that is going on all throughout this month. And I am so glad this was also my first Korean read of 2023.
It’s one thing to know about people’s lived reality based on what’s shown in the news and a totally different matter to hear about it from someone who has firsthand experience. That is why memoirs are some of the most powerful texts you could read to understand what life is like for others.
In Order to Live is split into three parts, each carrying hope and despair in equal measure.
As the author delves into her life story, you can no longer continue to see the world in hues of rosy gold. The writing is raw, honest, and sometimes a little deadpan. You don’t get the feeling that she is placing extra emphasis on the emotional aspect of her circumstances.
The book unveils how North Koreans are naturally conditioned to hold their rulers in high regard and live a life of collectivism.
Consequently, Park Yeonmi’s journey of escaping North Korea is not just a physical one but also a cognitive one; in that, unlearning what she has learned most of her life is such a crucial and foreign experience for her.
Understandably, the themes you’ll read about here are quite dark, ranging from sexual assault and kidnapping to family separation and the loss of a loved one.
That said, it is the author’s resilience and desire to build a better life for her family that keeps you hooked to the writing. I commend her for the bravery she must have channelled to publish her life story. And hope that more people like Park Yeonmi are able to get out of the places, relationships, and circumstances that do them no justice.
If you are looking to read autobiographies, In Order To Live is a great one! Highly recommend it!
One thought on “In Order To Live by Park Yeonmi”
I was numb for a while after reading this book cause I’d never reading anything remotely as cruel, and the fact that this isn’t fiction made it tougher to digest. Yet, it is a book I recommend to others since it changed a vital part of me and I wish it does the same for others!