The Price of Freedom: A Girl's Harrowing Escape From North Korea

Twenty-three-year-old Yeonmi Park can't remember the first time she saw death. She thinks it was probably as a toddler. It was the way of life in North Korea.

She grew up in a small town in the north-central part of North Korea, near the Chinese border. It was a time when the Soviet Union collapsed and cut off all aid to North Korea. Famine raged across her country, killing two and a half million people. She remembers seeing dead bodies and dead babies laying in the streets and floating down the river.

You had to steal or deal on the black market to survive. If you didn't, you'd be dead. Her father, a dealer on the black market, first started selling cigarettes and then food items. He eventually dealt with gold and silver and nickel, but his business wasn't booming. It barely kept enough food on the family's table. They were lucky to get one meal a day --- a bowl of rice. They were hungry, but better off than most.

That all changed when her father was caught and sent to prison --- and everything she thought she knew about her country and freedom came crashing down.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

GLENN: What is it that we would sacrifice for freedom? What are the lies that we're living under that we're told that we believe, that even though our eyes tell us differently, we embrace? And what is it that you would be willing to sacrifice for freedom? We have not really, truly been asked that in the last few generations since World War II. Our children are most likely going to be asked that question. And millions of people are asking that question all over the -- all over the world.

So their question is a little different because many of them don't even know what the concept of freedom is. Let's take you to North Korea, right now.

(music)

GLENN: Our freedom here in America is a profound privilege. But we didn't have to suffer to attain it. There hasn't been any real pain. No effort. No struggle. It's just been given to us. And I want more. I want bigger. I want easier.

And I resent you for having more, easier. It's not about freedom anymore. It's about stuff.

I'll take you to the other side of the world, a 23-year-old woman named Yeon-mi Park. Yeon-mi Park.

She can't remember the first time that she saw death. She thinks it was probably as she was a toddler. But it was the way of life in North Korea. She grew up in a small town just north-central part of North Korea, near the Chinese border. And as she was growing up, the Soviet Union collapsed and had cut off all aid to North Korea. And famine raged across North Korea. It killed 2.5 million people. They starved to death.

Did you even know that? She remembers seeing dead bodies and dead babies, just laying in the streets of her town and floating down the river. You had to steal or deal on the black market. And if you didn't, you were dead.

Her father was a dealer on the black market. He started first with cigarettes and then food items. And then he eventually dealt with gold and silver and nickel. But his business wasn't booming. It barely kept enough food on the family's table. They were lucky to get one meal a day. And that was a bowl of rice. And they were hungry. But they were better off than most.

It was about the time that we were engaged in war in Afghanistan that her father's black market business caught up with him. And he was sentenced by the North Koreans to 17 years in prison. Without his income, she and her sister and her mother would scrounge for food. They mainly lived on grasshoppers. Her father was tortured in prison. He had barely enough food or water to stay alive. He was in prison for three years before he had found some way to bribe an official. And he got out of prison.

By then, he was starting to be ravaged by colon cancer, but there was nothing he could do about it. They now began to understand the North Korea that they lived in. She had grown up differently, believing in North Korea and the dear leader. Now, with dad coming home, they plotted, "How can we get out of here? How can we get to China?"

They made a plan, and the two girls and mom left. Went across the border. Her younger sister actually went a little bit earlier. Dad had lined it up with this North Korean guide and said -- basically, a coyote -- I can get you across the border. It's what happens all the time on our border.

Well, dad employed a coyote. And he took mom and the then 13-year-old sister across the border.

The guy turned out to be a part of human trafficking. And the trafficker, when they got across the border said, "I'm going to turn you in to Chinese authorities, unless I get to have sex with your 13-year-old daughter, Mom." And he started moving towards her. The mother threw herself in between the two and said, "I can -- I'm experienced. I can do anything." And mom took her place to save her daughter.

She was raped repeatedly in front of her daughter. Dad, meanwhile, several days go by. Dad hasn't heard anything. He was staying back in North Korea to cover the tracks so that the wife and two daughters had a chance to get away. He sneaks across the border to join them.

He finds them, gets them away from the trafficker, and they -- they actually survive hidden for several months. And dad's colon cancer gets the best of him, and he dies. But they can't bury him. They're afraid if they bury him, they're going to -- you know, they will alert the Chinese authorities. Going back to North Korea isn't an option. That was a death sentence.

So they scrounge up enough money to bribe a cream auditorium to cremate dad's body at 3 o'clock in the morning, and they sneak dad's ashes out. And they bury him in a hillside by sprinkling his ashes in the grass. Now with dad gone, human traffickers grabbed them again. Mom is sold for $65. Our heroine is sold to an older man for 300 because she's a young virgin. She lived as his mistress from 2002 to 2009.

That's when a group of Chinese and South Korean Christian missionaries who helped smuggle North Koreans into South Korea find her.

They take her across the Gobi Desert. Her, her sister, and her mom. She said it's -- it's -- on this cold overnight walk, with only the stars to guide them over the Mongolian border, that she had her first real thoughts of rage against their dear leader. She was only 15, but she had already lived a lifetime. Death and hunger had been the reality in her life. And she recalled the early days when school was still in session and she was in school and they used to sing about Kim Jong-un and how he worked so hard traveling across the country, giving on-the-job training to all of the laborers. And he would sleep in his car. And he would pass on these great secrets. And he would sometimes even take their shift because they were too tired. And he would only eat small meals of little rice balls so the people could eat.

She said they prayed, "Please, please, dear leader, take a good rest for us. We're all crying for you."

When she was nine, she saw her mom's -- her best friend's mother lined up with nine other mothers, shot for the crime of watching a DVD that had been lent to them by friends. And that's bootlegging.

They're trying to get across the Mongolian border. There's no going back to North Korea. All these women were carrying knives because of that. There's no going back.

And when the Mongolian guards stopped them at the border, they said they were going to turn them over to Chinese authorities. And they all put the knives up to their own necks. They didn't threaten the Mongolians. They said, "We'll kill ourselves rather than going back."

The Mongolian guards opened up the gate.

It was a few weeks later, just a couple of years ago, that she was actually smuggled or brought in from Mongolia, brought into South Korea, and brought there as a refugee. She said it would take the next few years to even begin to grasp the concept of freedom. She said, I wasn't dreaming of freedom when I escaped from North Korea. None of us even knew what freedom meant. What does that even mean, to be free?

All I knew was my family stayed behind, and if you did, you'd die from starvation, from disease, or from the inhumane conditions of a prison labor camp. And that the hunger had become unbearable. I was willing to risk my life for a bowl of rice.

What are we willing to risk our life for? What is it we have sold our life for? Certainly not a bowl of rice.

We've sold our life for something shiny. Something that I've always wanted. Something I can't live without. Something that my neighbors don't have.

Tonight, at 5 o'clock, I'm going to tell you the true story of North Korea. I'm going to tell you the true story of why this is so dangerous. The game that we're playing now. Where this goes, I don't know. But if it goes to war, it's not going to be another Iraq or Afghanistan. This is a globe-changing war. And when we come back, I'm going to tell you what a leading adviser to the president said on how the president makes decisions. And he meant it as a good thing.

I'll let you decide on whether it's a good thing, especially when we're dealing with something as difficult as North Korea.

Eric Weinstein, managing director of investment firm Thiel Capital and host of "The Portal" podcast, is not a conservative, but he says conservative and center-right-affiliated media are the only ones who will still allow oppositional voices.

On "The Glenn Beck Podcast" this week, Eric told Glenn that the center-left media, which "controls the official version of events for the country," once welcomed him, but that all changed about eight years ago when they started avoiding any kind of criticism by branding those who disagree with them as "alt-right, far-right, neo-Nazi, etc.," even if they are coming from the left side of the aisle. But their efforts to discredit critical opinions don't stop there. According to Eric, there is a strategy being employed to destroy our national culture and make sure Americans with opposing views do not come together.

"We're trifling with the disillusionment of our national culture. And our national culture is what animates the country. If we lose the culture, the documents will not save us," Eric said. "I have a very strongly strategic perspective, which is that you save things up for an emergency. Well, we're there now."

In the clip below, Eric explains why, after many requests over the last few years, he finally agreed to this podcast.

Don't miss the full interview with Eric Weinstein here.

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Glenn Beck: Why MLK's pledge of NONVIOLENCE is the key to saving America

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Listen to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s pledge of nonviolence and really let it sink in: "Remember always that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation — not victory."

On the radio program, Glenn Beck shared King's "ten commandments" of nonviolence and the meaning behind the powerful words you may never have noticed before.

"People will say nonviolent resistance is a method of cowards. It is not. It takes more courage to stand there when people are threatening you," Glenn said. "You're not necessarily the one who is going to win. You may lose. But you are standing up with courage for the ideas that you espouse. And the minute you engage in the kind of activity that the other side is engaging in, you discredit the movement. You discredit everything we believe in."

Take MLK's words to heart, America. We must stand with courage, nonviolently, with love for all, and strive for peace and rule of law, not "winning."

Watch the video below for more:

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Conservatives are between a rock and a hard place with Section 230 and Big Tech censorship. We don't want more government regulation, but have we moved beyond the ability of Section 230 reforms to rein in Big Tech's rising power?

Rachel Bovard, Conservative Partnership Institute's senior director of policy, joined the Glenn Beck radio program to give her thoughts and propose a possibly bipartisan alternative: enforcing our existing antitrust laws.

Watch the video below:

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Dan Bongino, host of The Dan Bongino Show, is an investor in Parler — the social media platform that actually believes in free speech. Parler was attacked by Big Tech — namely Amazon, Apple, and Google — earlier this week, but Bongino says the company isn't giving up without a fight. In fact, he says, he's willing to go bankrupt over this one.

Dan joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to detail what he calls a "smear" campaign behind the scenes, and how he believes we can move forward from Big Tech's control.

"You have no idea how bad this was behind the scenes," Dan told Glenn. "I know you're probably thinking ... well, how much worse can the attack on Parler have gotten than three trillion-dollar companies — Amazon, Apple, and Google — all seemingly coordinated to remove your business from the face of the Earth? Well, behind the scenes, it's even worse. I mean, there are smear campaigns, pressure campaigns ... lawyers, bankers, everyone, to get this company ... wiped from the face of the earth. It's incredible."

Dan emphasized that he would not give up without a fight, because what's he's really fighting for is the right to free speech for all Americans, regardless of their political opinions, without fear of being banned, blacklisted, or losing jobs and businesses.

"I will go bankrupt. I will go absolutely destitute before I let this go," he said. "I have had some very scary moments in my life and they put horse blinders on me. I know what matters now. It's not money. It's not houses. It's none of that crap. It's this: the ability to exist in a free country, where you can express your ideas freely."

Watch the video below to hear more from Dan:

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