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In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom
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In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  11,356 Ratings  ·  1,479 Reviews
Human 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 a ...more
Hardcover, 273 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Penguin Press (first published September 25th 2015)
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Bethany The answer to that may depend on the types of books your sister typically reads, and how distressing it would be for her to read about the atrocities…moreThe answer to that may depend on the types of books your sister typically reads, and how distressing it would be for her to read about the atrocities that the author faced. Throughout much of the book, the author is younger than or around the same age as your sister, and the violence that she faces can be disturbing to read about. It would probably be appropriate for some teens in that age bracket, just know that what the author goes through to protect her family is horrific.(less)

Community Reviews

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Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
I don't think any review I write for this book can do it justice. It's a truly remarkable story, but more than that, it shows a truly remarkable young woman who is resilient and hopeful even in the bleakest of moments. It's the epitome of inspiration, and I wish every single person would read this book and be inspired by it.
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: owned-physical
Some of you will probably skip reading this review since it’s a memoir and most of my friends and followers, like me are lovers of fantasy & fiction books. Believe me, memoirs or any kind of non-fiction books is a genre I avoid the most. However, after watching Yeonmi Park’s viral video on YouTube back in 2014, I was so moved and when I found out there’s a book based on her life since her birth until her escape from North Korea, I bought it straight the next day. If you decided to not read t ...more
Whitney Atkinson
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017, memoir
4.5 stars

everything hurts and i'm crying

This book just makes you take 10 seats. It's a story I can't even fathom being in. It's like an actual dystopia. Everything was so outrageous and haunting that it was almost unbelievable.

What I found myself enjoying was not just Yeonmi finding physical freedom outside the borders of North Korea and the human trafficking industry, but the mental freedom of learning how to be opinionated and advocating for others' rights. This book is so touching, but so sa
Petra Eggs
Education. Re-education and even more re-re-education. Or you could just call it programming or that nice, old-fashioned Cold War word, brainwashing. But who, in the end, is being brainwashed? It wouldn't be us now, would it?

Yeomi Park is born into a subsistence-level existence in North Korea which is reduced to almost lower than that when her father, a smuggler of metals, is sent to a labour camp. When he is released, he is a broken man.

"At three the following morning, Yeonmi and her mother to
April (Aprilius Maximus)
I honestly don't even know what to say. What can you possibly say after reading Yeonmi's story? Completely heartbreaking and horrific, yet inspiring all at once.

Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge Notes:
- 19. A non-fiction book
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Matt by: Mariah
Shelves: audiobook, buddy-read
Shifting focus on this biography journey away from men with significant power, I wanted to find a piece that would not only educate, but also exemplify some of the struggles of the common person. That this is also a buddy read with a good friend of mine only adds to the interest when it was suggested I read this memoir by Yeonmi Park. Growing up in North Korea, Park offers the reader some history of the country and the autocratic Kim Family dynasty, some of which directly related to her own ance ...more
Sarah Churchill
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm not normally an autobiography fan. I mostly read fiction. But Yeonmi's story is just... you know how they say truth is stranger than fiction? That.

We have to bear in mind here that I met the lovely, kind and humble lady herself before I read this. I'll hold my hands up that that probably had an impact on how much this book touched me.

Split into three parts to document her escape from North Korea, set in NK, China and South Korea, the account is heartbreaking, fascinating and punctuated by th
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ich weiß, dass es viel Kritik an Yeonmi Park gibt und an der Glaubwürdigkeit ihrer Geschichte. Ich kenne diese Vorwürfe, und tue sie auch nicht als Quatsch ab, sondern denke, dass da definitiv etwas dran ist.
ABER das Buch selbst ist wirklich sehr gelungen. Es ist sehr ergreifend, größtenteils extrem schockierend(vor allem weil ich dachte, dass ich über Nordkorea schon viel weiß) und spannend. Eine Biographie, die man gelesen haben sollte, die aufklärt und meinen Blick auf die Welt nochmal ein bi
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
Es 1984 pero real, está pasando ahora mismo en Corea del Norte, y lo peor de todo es que cuando consiguen escapar del país, los "desertores" están expuestos a las mafias de trata de blancas. Es impactante porque es real, y el Mundo no parece o no quiere darse cuenta de la realidad.

De obligada lectura
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'll have a review of this up next week!
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for the Goodreads book club Diversity in All Forms. Join the discussion:

I am very glad we read this book because North Korea is a country I know very little about. This book was super eye opening. I also had never heard of the human trafficking in China, especially the trafficking of North Koreans.

Books like these are the reason I read. I love having my eyes and world open. They motivate me to make a difference and a change, even if I can
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow. Just wow.

This girl is only 21 years old and has lived a life that most of us could never fathom. Born and raised in North Korea, she was brainwashed to believe the Benevolent Dictator Family, the Kims, could read her mind and was cautious of any negative thoughts she may have about her country. That's how controlled her life was. Due to an incredible series of events performed by her whole family in order to live, Park escapes to China where she and her mother are captured and sold into sla
Liz Janet
We are always worried about a dystopia yet to come, without realizing, that in some places across the world, the system already exists.
There are two things to take from this book. 1) The struggle some people around the world have to endure compared to the relaxed lives we have, and 2) Human resilience can overcome all, and that in times of trouble, there will still be good people out there willing to help.
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I talk about this book in my November reading wrap-up video.

Don't worry about my rating for this book. How do you rate a story like this, a book like this? I don't know. I don't know at all. What I do know is that I was unable to put down Yeonmi's story once I picked it up. It at once gave me a glimpse into a life in a place I knew nothing about, had never really thought about, could never imagine even if I tried. Yeonmi's story is incredible and it's the kind of story that makes you think, that
Ink is My Sword (Sara)
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 Unbelievable Stars

After reading, and while reading this book I kept going.... .... ... I just couldn't speak from all the horrors she went through in her life. I kept asking myself, " If that was me, would I be able to survive?"

Yeonmi went through all the unimaginable nightmares when she was ONLY 13 years old, and she was strong enough to survive and tell us her story today and helps us see the reality our world is leaving today. Because while we are here, reading about fictional dystopian
Sam Quixote
I’ve always been curious about life in North Korea but didn’t really make an effort to find out just how weird and harrowing it was until I saw Yeonmi Park’s In Order to Live - a memoir of a girl who grew up in North Korea, defected, and now lives in South Korea - and decided to find out. Well… I found out. Weird and harrowing doesn’t come close.

The book opens with a teenage Park and her mother trying to make it across the North Korea/China border in the middle of the night, bribing guards and r
Yeonmi Park was only 21 years old when she began writing her memoir In Order to Live which tells the tale of how she and her mother escaped from a terrible life in North Korea, to be captured by human traffickers in China and eventually travel across a desert to Mongolia to find safety in South Korea. I have just finished this book and I’m left with a throat full of tears for this wonderful, amazing girl and her courage and power to talk out about things that have happened to thousands of people ...more
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Qué poco sabemos de lo que ocurre lejos de nuestras fronteras. Qué valiente contar esta historia y cuánto da que pensar.
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I was sent this book to review by Penguin after I sent a request asking to receive it because I was interested in reading it and hearing Yeonmi's story, but I will always give my honest opinion and for this book that was easy to do. I, like many others who live in the modern, Western part of the world, knew very little about North Korea before I was sent this book. I had watched one or two documentaries and I knew things were bad, but I hadn't yet had the chance to pick up and read an actual acc ...more
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Wow... This story about Yeonmi Park escaping North Korea was so incredibly shocking, horrible, but inspirational at the same time. She has so much courage for sharing her story with the world and I literally couldn't put the book down. The amount of strength and courage that Yeonmi has is unbelievable and after finishing this book it's almost impossible to believe that the things described in this book are actually happening in the world.

I highly recommend this book!
Ashley Brooks
I don't even know what to say. The things Yeonmi and many others like her survived in North Korea and China are things most people don't even think about in their lives. This is a must read.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to El by: The F-Word
What were you doing when you were 13 years old? I shudder to think because I know I was a disgusting 13-year-old, full of #FirstWorldProblems (back when we still called hashtags the "pound sign") and unwashed hair. Life was ending every single day as far as I was concerned, because the popular girls said something to me that hurt my feelings, or the boy I was crushing on at any point didn't look at me that day, or I was bullied relentlessly. It doesn't really matter because all of those days wer ...more
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Now it is actually two weeks ago that I read this book and I still do not think that my review can do justice to the importance of this book. But what I can definitely say is that this book is so much worth reading. People who know me also know that about 99% of the books on my shelf are fiction. This is actually the first memoir Ive ever completely read from start to finish. Every time when Yeonmi described a horrible event which happened to her family I had to remind myself that this story is ...more
This was such an insightful story. Both terribly horrific and beautifully inspiring.

Im not giving this book a star-rating because it feels odd to 'rate' a story that is real. I do want to recommend it to everyone who is even remotely interested. Don't be hesistant because it's non-fiction; it's very readable and approachable.

I'll be thinking about this for a long time.
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The only good thing about spring was that we didn’t need as much wood to burn, and we could walk to the small mountains outside of town where we could fill our bellies with bugs and wild plants so that the hunger didn’t bite so sharply. Some of the plants even tasted good, like wild clover flowers. Eunmi’s favorite was something we called “cat plant,” which had small, soft green leaves. We also chewed on certain roots without swallowing them, just to feel like we were putting something in our m ...more
Mari Yeung
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction

Incredible and heartbreaking story.

I wanted to write a review but honestly I don't think I'll ever be able to. In my opinion it's impossible to write criticism about a book like this.
I'm happy I read this and that I know a little bit more of what happens in the world.
Since no one ever talks about the conditions of NK I'm going to. Everyone I know will listen to me talking about this huge problem.
I had previously read Escape from Camp 14, but I needed some information about women in NK, and t
This was such a powerful story! There is nothing I could possibly write to explain the emotions I felt whilst reading this. I recommend this to everyone - male, female, teenager, elder, cat. Just read it.
Ana ☾
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-english, 2017
This book was truly heartbreaking. But such an important read. I think one thing is to "know" what happen in North Korea and a totally different one is to actually understand it. And not only in North Korea, but China as well.
I think everyone should read this book to understand a little bit more and to open our eyes more to the reality in which we live. We live in such a horrible world, that's not even questionable, but I was happy to see that even in those situations there were and are people d
Tânia Tanocas
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Foi altamente angustiante realizar esta leitura...
Uma autêntica jornada de terror rumo a uma liberdade que devia ser o direito de todo o ser humano...
Não acho que seja correto avaliar uma biografia de alguém, mas neste caso dou 5 estrelas pela coragem da Yeonmi em relatar à sua tão dura tarefa em fugir do regime da Coreia do Norte, coragem essa que venero e que espero que ajude muitas outras pessoas que estejam na mesma situação e que abra consciências na sociedade...
Não, não é uma leitura fác
Oct 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Read this in two sittings. A remarkable woman and a remarkable story.
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“We all have our own deserts. They may not be the same as my desert, but we all have to cross them to find a purpose in life and be free.” 53 likes
“I inhaled books like other people breathe oxygen. I didn't just read for knowledge or pleasure, I read to live.” 26 likes
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