North Korean defector compares ‘woke’ America to her home country

North Korean defector compares ‘woke’ America to her home country

Yeonmi Park on Joe Rogan’s Podcast Joe Rogan Experience

Joe Rogan Experience

Yeonmi Park defected from North Korea as a child in 2007 with her mother and sister, and his lived in the United States since 2014.

She first gained recognition after giving a talk at the One Young World Summit in 2014. Her speech gained 50 million views on YouTube within the first 20 days. Since then, Park has published two books: In Order to Live and While Time Remains, documenting her experience growing up in North Korea, defecting, and building a life for herself in the United States.

Whilst Park is applauded for her bravery and for speaking out against North Korea and its regime, she has faced criticism for some of her actions and statements.

In her recent book While Time Remains: A North Korean Defector's Search for Freedom in America, Park criticises what she sees as ‘woke’ ideologies in American society and schools. She writes, ‘I need you to help save our country,’ claiming ‘woke’ ideas are destroying America. In her first book, she expressed similar ideas, saying that American students were being told what to think the same way North Koreans were.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

Park, who attended Columbia University in 2016 and graduated in 2020, spoke to The New York Post saying 'They were in Manhattan, living in the freest country you can imagine, and they're saying they're oppressed? It doesn't even compute.'

Many have begun to criticise Park for her comments. Saying she’s pandering to conservatives and shouldn’t be comparing ‘woke’ ideas to the North Korean regime and ideology:

This isn’t the first time Park has been criticised.

Not long after her 2016 speech gained traction, many raised some scepticism about Park’s claims.

Ann Jolley wrote in The Diplomat about ‘serious inconsistencies’ within Park’s speeches and story. Park responded to such findings by saying that her limited English skills combined with imperfect childhood memories, meant there may have been some mistakes in her stories.

Other defectors have also accused Park of embellishing her stories and disputed some claims she had previously made. For example, at 9 years old, Park claims to have witnessed her friend’s mother being publicly executed in a stadium for watching a foreign film.

Several defectors disputed the claim saying public executions didn’t occur in stadiums. Some were sceptical that watching a foreign film would even lead to execution.

Many don’t want to ignore Park’s achievements in defecting, surviving extreme hardships, and spreading awareness about her experiences, but believe criticism is due for some of her remarks and claims.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)