Review: In Order To Live

In Order To Live by Yeonmi Park

Yeonmi Park has told the harrowing story of her escape from North Korea as a child many times, but never before has she revealed the most intimate and devastating details of the repressive society she was raised in and the enormous price she paid to escape.

Park’s family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically medieval. Park would regularly go without food and was made to believe that, Kim Jong Il, the country’s dictator, could read her mind. After her father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black-market, a risk he took in order to provide for his wife and two young daughters, Yeonmi and her family were branded as criminals and forced to the cruel margins of North Korean society. With thirteen-year-old Park suffering from a botched appendectomy and weighing a mere sixty pounds, she and her mother were smuggled across the border into China.

Park knew the journey would be difficult, but could not have imagined the extent of the hardship to come. Those years in China cost Park her childhood, and nearly her life.  By the time she and her mother made their way to South Korea two years later, her father was dead and her sister was still missing. Before now, only her mother knew what really happened between the time they crossed the Yalu river into China and when they followed the stars through the frigid Gobi Desert to freedom. As she writes, “I convinced myself that a lot of what I had experienced never happened. I taught myself to forget the rest.”

I was really nervous to read this book. I tend not to read autobiographies but the premise was so fascinating that I couldn’t not read it. North Korea is like a foreign world to me and I was so interested in seeing what it was like from a native that I picked this up as soon as I could.  Rating someone’s life like a piece of fiction is hard, luckily I rated this book 5- stars so I don’t have to worry about that!

Here’s Why You Should Read It!

This book is divided into 3 sections. The first is while she is in North Korea, the second is China, and the 3rd was in the U.K.

So many things I’ve never heard about was discussed in this book. The most prominent of course was about North Korea. I knew practically nothing about North Korea before reading this and it was so shocking to hear how the people of North Korea live. I remember stopping and saying “WOW” at a lot events.

Besides North Korea there was a whole section about China and the sex trade of North Koreans, again this is a topic I’ve never heard of before and was blown away. Yeonmi and her sister was separated for 7 years! and this is a very common event.

I mostly listened to this book on audio and I totally recommend it! The names of the towns and the people were so unfamiliar to me that hearing the pronunciation really added to  Yeonmi’s story. However the print version of the book as pictures so it might be worth it to pick up a physical copy as well.

The only “complaint” I have about this book is the writing felt really detached. Like she was trying to take all of her feeling and emotions of the events she was experiencing. I understand why she wrote like that, clearly the events were really hard for her to talk about but it sometimes made it hard to fell emotionally attached to her in some of the scenes.

Overall, I’m really grateful for this book! It opened my eyes to the lives of North Koreans and made me think about immigrants and refugees. Before I never thought about the reasons so many people leave their home countries and now I do and I’m so grateful for that. Since reading this I’ve added a lot of people’s accounts of their lives from their home countries to my TBR.

In Conclusion, If you haven’t read Yeonmi’s In order to Live  give it a go. It’s totally worth the hype and I recommend it to everyone!

Have you read In Order to Live? What did you think of it?

xx Happy Reading xx




4 thoughts on “Review: In Order To Live

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