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

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  53,470 ratings  ·  4,791 reviews
'I am most grateful for two things: that I was born in North Korea, and that I escaped from North Korea.'

Yeonmi Park was not dreaming of freedom when she escaped from North Korea. She didn't even know what it meant to be free. All she knew was that she was running for her life, that if she and her family stayed behind they would die - from starvation, or disease, or ev
Paperback, 273 pages
Published July 7th 2016 by Penguin (first published September 25th 2015)
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Average rating 4.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  53,470 ratings  ·  4,791 reviews

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Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
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 this ...more
Petra wants more princes & less frogs to kiss
Update 15 June 2021. NYPost Jane Austen is getting cancelled! Yeonmi Park says that freedom in the US is going the way of North Korea - she is now in Columbia university
"A professor asked who the class who liked classical books, like Jane Austen.
'I said, 'I love those books. I thought it was a good thing.'
'Then she said, 'Did you know those writers had a colonial mindset? They were racists and bigots and are subconsciously brainwashing you."

Park warned that Americans were censoring and silencin
Whitney Atkinson
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
April (Aprilius Maximus)
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
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
Helene Jeppesen
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most important books I’ve read in my life!
“In Order to Live” tells the true story of Yeonmi and her family growing up in the dictatorship of North Korea. Yeonmi is very honest from the beginning, and her story tells about the bravery she and her family had to have in order to escape North Korea and survive.
I knew a little bit about North Korea beforehand, but this book was an eye-opener! Never have I imagined what the truth is actually like for North Korean people, and it wa
Ionut Velicu
Mar 02, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matt by: Mariah Roze
Shelves: buddy-read, audiobook
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
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
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
May 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I'm six years late to this party, but - no surprises here - this was heartbreaking and inspiring. ...more
WOW! This book was just impactful because it's full of a very young woman's strength, endurance and emotions. I loved every bit of it, and I admire Park with all my heart.
Full review coming soon.
I’ve read a few books from North Korea defectors. Most noticeably A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea and Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, but I hadn’t really read anything from a purely female perspective until now.

Yeonmi Park grew up in North Korea, near the border with China, with her entrepreneurial father, mother and sister. Although they may not have initially had the worst upbringing due to her father’s ingenuity, this changed when he was sent to prison,
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, korea
4.5 stars

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,
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll have a review of this up next week! ...more
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mariah Roze
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
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.
Jul 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this to get myself out of the slump, instead it put me into the state of depression.
Sara ➽ Ink Is My Sword
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
Video review:

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
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 sl
“I inhaled books like other people breathe oxygen. I didn't just read for knowledge or pleasure, I read to live.”

Wow. This book was incredible. What Yeonmi Park and many other North Koreans have gone through is simply horrific and inhumane. She is so brave to tell her story and shine light on this issue. I felt truly inspired listening to this book. Everything that Yeonmi Park has overcome and everything she has achieved since her escape is incredible.

I truly think everyone should read thi
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015

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
Jananie (thisstoryaintover)
"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."

One of the most heartbreaking things I've ever read but also the most moving and inspiring. I cannot express the emotions I feel but I am just so grateful that Yeonmi shared her story.
If you are going to read the book I would recommend avoiding articles and interviews until you're done.

Yeonmi Park's story is certainly harrowing. She is part of what is referred to as the 'Black Market Generation', young North Koreans born during/after the famine, North Koreans who don't have the same connection to Kim Il-sung (not only because he was long dead, but because they never experienced a successful/functioning North Korea). Thanks to her father's cunning and business sense, she and h
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was absolutely phenomenal. I had no idea of about 90% of the things happening in North Korea. It sounds like a country that someone made up on a drug high, to be completely honest. Absolutely mind-boggling how something like this still exists in the 21st century.

Yeonmi Park is literally only about two weeks older than me, but has had a life of more hardships and struggling than anyone should ever have to put up with. I can't even begin to imagine what she went through. But then to also be b
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
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It seems strange to give this book a rating due to its nature. These five stars are for Yeonmi Park’s immense courage, resilience and perseverance. She is my hero.

Yeonmi’s story demands to be read.
This is how the world really works.

“I lived in North Korea, the country where we were supposed to have nothing to envy, and all I felt was envy – desperate envy for the people on the other side of the river” [in China]

“I knew in my heart that I deserved to be treated like a person, not a hunted anima
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Park Yeon-mi (Korean: 박연미) is a North Korean defector and human rights activist who escaped from North Korea to China in 2007 and settled in South Korea in 2009, before moving to the United States in 2014. She came from an educated, politically connected family that turned to black market trading during North Korea's economic collapse in the 1990s. After her father was sent to a labor camp for smu ...more

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