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.

During his campaign, President Joe Biden survived scandal after scandal involving his son Hunter — the Ukraine/Burisma scandal, the laptop scandal, the one involving a stripper from Arkansas and a long-lost child. And yet, after it all appeared to have been swept under the rug, Hunter has now released a memoir — "Beautiful Things."

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere discussed Hunter's "horrible" response when asked on "CBS This Morning" if the laptop seized by the FBI in 2019 belonged to him and reviewed a few segments from his new book, which they agreed raises the question: Is Hunter trying to sabotage his father's career?

Watch the video below for more:


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Countless corporations — from Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, and Porsche to UPS and LinkedIn — are calling out the Georgia voting laws, calling them "restrictive," "racist," and "discriminative." Meanwhile, words like "stakeholder" and "equitable" are starting to show up in their arguments.

On the radio program, Glenn Beck gave the "decoder ring" for what's really going on here, because our society is being completely redesigned in front of our eyes.

There's a reason why all these big businesses are speaking out now, and it has very little to do with genuine ideology, Glenn explained. It's all about ESG scores and forcing "compliance" through the monetization of social justice.

Glenn went on to detail exactly what ESG scores are, how they're calculated, and why these social credit scores explain the latest moves from "woke" companies.

Watch the video below to hear Glenn break it down:

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Dallas Jenkins is a storyteller — and he's telling the most important story of all time in a way that many believed was impossible.

Jenkins is the creator of "The Chosen," a free, crowdfunded series about the life of Jesus that rivals Hollywood productions. And Season 2 could not have arrived at a better time — on Easter weekend 2021. Church attendance has dropped, people are hungry for something bigger than all of us, and many are choosing social justice activism, political parties, or even the climate change movement as "religions" over God.

This Easter weekend, Jenkins joined Glenn on the "Glenn Beck Podcast" to discuss the aspects of Jesus that often get overlooked and break through the misconceptions about who Jesus really is to paint a clear picture of why America needs Emmanuel, "God with us," now more than ever.

Watch the full podcast below:

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Award-winning investigative journalist Lara Logan joined Glenn Beck on the radio program this week to argue the Biden administration's border crisis is "enabling" drug cartels, allowing them to exploit migrants, use border wall construction roads, and cross the border much more easily.

Lara, who has witnessed and experienced firsthand some of the worst violence around the world as a war correspondent for CBS News, told Glenn it's "not an overstatement" to call the cartels in Mexico "the most violent and powerful criminal organizations on the face of the earth." And while they're "at war with us, we've been asleep at the wheel."

But Lara also offers solutions that the U.S. can enact to stop these horrific atrocities.

"There's more than 30,000 Mexican civilians who are massacred every year in Mexico by the cartels. And that's just the bodies that the Mexican government owns up to or knows about, right?" Lara said. "There's Mexicans buried in unmarked mass graves all across the country. I mean, everyone knows that the violence of the cartels is not like anything anyone has ever seen before. It even pales in comparison to, at times, to what terrorist groups like ISIS have done."

Lara went on to explain some of the unspeakable acts of violence and murder that occur at the hands of the Mexican cartels — 98% of which go uninvestigated.

"That's not unprosecuted, Glenn. That's uninvestigated," Lara emphasized. "[Cartels] operate with impunity. So the law enforcement guy, the policemen, the marine, the National Guardsmen, who are trying to do the right thing, who are not in the pocket of the cartels — what chance do those guys have? They've got no chance. You know where they end up? In one of those unmarked graves."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

(Content Warning: Disturbing content)



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