North Korean Survivor Yeomni Park Slams Western Media For Treating 'Murderer' Kim Jong-Un As A Joke

20/11/2015 06:11 | Updated 08 January 2016

North Korean survivor Yeomni Park has criticised Western media for portraying dictator Kim Jong-un as a joke and a cartoon character.

Addressing the One Young World summit in Bangkok, the 22-year-old, who escaped from her home country when she was 13, said: "When I came to the West I found you were talking about Kim Jong-un. Yes, his haircut is funny. Yes, he is fat. He is like a cartoon character somehow..

"But Kim Jong-un is not a joke to me. He was a god I had to worship every day. He is a murderer. Making fun of dictators cannot be enough. Why is it so funny?

"And he might try to kill me now I have said this," she added. "But I am free, so I can say anything I want."

one young world

'My mother was sold for $65. She was less valuable than an iPhone'

Yeomni continued: "Human lives you guys are being sold for less than $100 and people don't even know what is human dignity. All they know is they are hungry and oppressed and they don't even know they are oppressed.

"They don't know human life can be like this."

Yeomni escaped to China, where she says the first thing she saw was her mother being raped.

"My mother and I were victims of human trafficking," she said. "My mother was sold for $65 and I was sold for $250 as a bride.

"I wonder, what can we do with $65?

"I am sure we cannot buy a smartphone like you all have here, that you're taking pictures of me with.

"My mother was less valuable than an iPhone."

She continued: "When I had to be sold they told me, if you don't want to be sold you can go back to your country. But I said no because I was hungry. Being starved to death was worse than being a sex slave."

After two years of being in China, Yeomni and her mother had the opportunity to "live as human beings with dignity".

"We crossed the Gobi desert and followed a compass and the North Star to freedom."

Yeomni urged young delegates to remember "the 25m forgotten lives in North Korea", adding: "I am still fully learning about freedom and what it means to be. When I came to South Korea I was 15 years old. I didn't know how to use a toilet, what a bank was. What's the internet?

"In South Korea I had the freedom to choose for myself. I didn't even know what my favourite colour was."

one young world

Yeonmi Park addressing the One Young World conference in Bangkok

Yeomni, who is currently living in South Korea, hit headlines after delivering a speech at last year's One Young World conference in Dublin, which has had more than 2m views to date.

"Last year when I shared my speech, I did not know who Sir Bob Geldof or Richard Branson was. I had no idea. I was just worried about how to pronounce words.

"When I was on the stage and I shared with you that at the age of 13, when I didn't even know what sex was and I saw my mother raped, you cried with me. You told me you cared.

"Through my journey I did not even know how to survive, but I have learned what it means to be a human being. It restored my faith in humanity because people can do the worst things.

"But I can trust people again, especially men."

She continued: "Even the people I didn't know existed before, you all cared. After One Young World, you spread the word, you shared my video and the North Korean issue on social media, and you told your friends."

Yeomni has recently released a book about her experiences.

"My book is out, and it is very humbling," she said. "I have publishers calling me. Penguin. I have a bird calling me. What is that?

"I realised I had to cross another desert in my life, because until then I did not share my human trafficking experience. I thought nobody would see me as pure. But I had to write the whole truth, the whole story. I had to relieve it again to write the book.

"But I made it. I surrendered everything, my privacy and I told the world what my people are going through and what I went through.

"So here we are again, I know that you will not be silenced again this year for the injustices happening around the world.

"Last week, the Paris attack broke my heart. We had a terrible confirmation last week, [that] human rights violation is not someone else’s problem anymore.

"I want to raise our voice that we have to fight for our liberty and rights and we have to make the world a better place."

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