Adult Non-fiction, Book reviews and recommendations, Educational, General Information, Young Adult 16+

In Order to Live

Author: Yeonmi Park

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction

Reviewed by: Orla

Imagine being told what to do, what to think, what to say, what to eat? Brainwashed since birth North Korean psyches have been controlled and monitored. They must not talk freely or say anything bad about the Korean government. They were told the birds and nature would pick up on it and report back. Sounds ludicrous but this wasn’t a game.

Luckily for Yeonmi her parents told her and her sister what was really happening. Their extreme poverty and lack of essential resources had been restricted by their government. The same government who tax them heavily and insist they are doing all they can to benefit their people. They expect the people to trust them and worship their president like God.  

Her parents wanted a better life for them but don’t know how to give it to them. They work long hours and get very little in return. Their meagre existence makes it a struggle to stay nourished. Her father does a few illegal jobs to put food on the table but is terrified of being caught. If he was caught he would be thrown into prison without mercy. 

Unbearable torture and hardship have been endured for too long. They are beyond desperate to scramble for a way out. There is a trickle of rumours whispered into their ears and behind closed doors that life is better outside this horrendous regime. They wonder if the whispers are like Chinese whispers and question their honesty. They don’t ponder for too long. Their existence is becoming more intense and bleaker. They want to eke out a better lifestyle for themselves. 

They drink in hope that what they hear aren’t fables and that the promised land beyond the water will make them rich if they work hard. It’s a precarious and treacherous journey to China as they could be caught at any time. Yeonmi and mother make the journey. As soon as they touch the soil in China they quickly realise they have been exploited. After being duped into trafficking it is hell on earth all over again. Yeonmi has not escaped one regime to suffer another. 

She calculates her escape but she has to get the timing right. Since this book has been released Yeonmi has been called a liar and deemed a charlatan. In order to live Yeonmi must acknowledge her haunting past if she ever wants to move forward. This book has a see-saw balance of triumph and despair.   

Available in e-book format from Bolinda Borrowbow.

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