When Yeonmi Park was a young girl, she went to her uncle’s house to watch a movie. This wasn’t a state-run broadcast that praised the Dear Leader. The movie at her uncle’s house was illegal.
She covered the windows with blankets, turned the volume down low, and huddled-in close around the TV. She watched a pirated copy of Titanic.
“When I saw that movie for the first time, I was very confused,” Yeonmi Park says. “I never heard my father telling my mother that he loved her. And my mother never told me she loved me, either. To me, love was only expressed [for] the Dear Leader. So, it was a very odd concept to me — how can a man die for a woman?”
By the time Park escaped North Korea in 2007, she’d seen James Bond, South Korean dramas — even American wrestling matches.
“Just for a couple of hours, you forget about how life is so hard,” she says. “Almost dreaming about a different planet.”
Yeonmi Park’s story is not the North Korea we know.