Escape from North Korea: ‘How I escaped horrors of life under Kim Jong-il’

Yeonmi Park was nine years old when she was invited to watch her best friend’s mother be shot.

Growing up in North Korea, Yeonmi had seen executions before. She remembers her mother piggy­backing her to public squares and sports stadiums to watch the spectacles used by Kim Jong-il’s Workers’ Party to silence even the slightest whisper of dissent.

But this killing lodged in her mind. Yeonmi watched in horror as the woman she knew was lined up alongside eight other prisoners and her sentence was read out. Her crime was having watched South Korean films and lending the DVDs to friends. Her punishment in this most paranoid of dictatorships was death by firing squad.

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