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.


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.

POLL: Should Universities allow pro-Hamas protests?

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Just one day after Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel, which left over 1,400 people Israelis dead, 34 different student groups from Harvard University wrote a joint statement pinning the blame of Hamas' terrorist attack on Israel. In the following days after publishing this callous statement, these students staged a walkout and rallied in support of the Palestinians. As Glenn has discussed, this is not an isolated event, and campuses across the country have hosted similar rallies where antisemitic jargon like "we don't want no Jew state" and "globalize the intifada" is freely spewed.

Should Universities allow pro-Hamas protests?

While the Universities have not officially backed any of these rallies or student groups that organized them, they haven't stopped them either, which raises the question: should they? On one hand, these are American students in American Universities, who are protected by the First Amendment. On the other hand, history tells us how dangerous antisemitism is if left unchecked; and what of the rights of Jewish students to be safe on the campuses they pay to attend? Let us know what you think in the poll below:

Should Universities allow pro-Hamas protests? 

Would you feel safe if your child attended a University that allowed pro-Hamas protests?

 Should Universities allow pro-Israel protests?

Is pro-Hamas rhetoric protected by the First Amendment?

POLL: What do YOU think Israel should do about Gaza?

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Should Israel take over Gaza after defeating Hamas? This contentious historical question has resurfaced amid Israel's retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza following Hamas' terror attacks, which resulted in the greatest death of Jews since the Holocaust. Biden and the global elites have warned Israel against occupation of the Palestinian territory. When asked on 60 Minutes if he would support the Israeli occupation of Gaza, Biden said, “I think it would be a big mistake.” Today Glenn responded to Biden’s answer: “I don't think it's a mistake to occupy."

This has been a long-standing, polarizing issue that is now more relevant than ever, and we want to hear YOUR thoughts. Let us know in the poll below:

Would you support an Israeli occupation of Gaza?

Do you think the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza are justified?

Do you think a two-state solution is still possible?

Funding IRAN?! Here are the TOP 5 reasons Joe Biden should be IMPEACHED

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On September 12th, the House announced an official impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden with allegations of abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption. Naturally, the media quickly jumped to the President’s aid claiming that “there is no evidence to support these claims” and that the whole affair is a witch hunt.

If you’ve been listening to Glenn, you know that this is simply not the case. Biden has been committing impeachment-worthy deeds before he even stepped foot into the Oval Office—there’s no shortage of evidence to justify this inquiry. Here are 5 scathing reasons why Biden should be impeached:

He was responsible for the Afghanistan withdrawal disaster.

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The Biden administration began with the US's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Under his watch, Biden left thousands of US citizens and allies stranded in the Taliban's hostile regime. Countless Afghan allies have been murdered by the Taliban due to the Biden administration's negligence.

He was involved with Hunter Biden's illicit foreign business dealings.

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There is clear evidence that Joe Biden was more than aware of his son Hunter's foreign business dealings. From suspicious money laundering through the Biden family's accounts to Joe's involvement with important business meetings within Hunter's company, there is mounting evidence to warrant an impeachment inquiry.

He lied about his involvement with Hunter's business dealings.

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Not only did Biden involve himself with his son's less-than-legal foreign business ventures, but he lied to the American people about it too, claiming he had NO KNOWLEDGE of what was going on.

He failed to protect the Southern border, and actively made it worse.

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Biden singlehandedly turned the Southern border into the worst illegal immigration crisis in US history. He reversed many policies set in place by the Trump administration, resulting in 2.3 million illegal immigrants flooding into the US under his watch, a historic high.


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Biden reversed the Trump-era policy that halted all funds going into Iran. The Wall Street Journal revealed the smoking-gun evidence proving that Iran trained AND funded Hamas before its gruesome terror attacks against Israel. Moreover, shortly before the attacks, the Biden administration unfroze $6 BILLION dollars of Iran's assets as a part of a prisoner swap. On top of this, Biden resumed $200 million worth of "humanitarian aid" to Gaza that Trump had ended—because the money was being used to buy weapons for Hamas.

Top 5 economic milestones that show HOW BAD Bidenomics has made the economy

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From groceries to house prices, everything seems to get more expensive, and you can thank Biden for that. Glenn recently exposed the truth about 'Bidenomics' and the havoc it has wrought on the American economy. Here are five economic milestones during the Biden administration that expose the glaring track record of "Bidenomics:"

In July 2022, the inflation rate hit 9.1 percent, a 40-year record high.

In June 2022, gas hit an all time record high of $5 a gallon for the national average.

61 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck as of this September.

Interest rates reached a 15-year high at 5.25 percent and are still increasing.

Americans have $1 trillion in collective credit card debt, in part due to food/staple pieces being very high.