Quotes from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom

Yeonmi Park ·  273 pages

Rating: (14.7K votes)


“We all have our own deserts. They may not be the same as my desert, but we all have to cross them to find a purpose in life and be free.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“I inhaled books like other people breathe oxygen. I didn't just read for knowledge or pleasure, I read to live.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“But when I was seven or eight years old, the film that changed my life was Titanic. It amazed me that it was a story that took place a hundred years ago. Those people living in 1912 had better technology than most North Koreans! But mostly I couldn’t believe how someone could make a movie out of such a shameful love story. In North Korea, the filmmakers would have been executed. No real human stories were allowed, nothing but propaganda about the Leader. But in Titanic, the characters talked about love and humanity. I was amazed that Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were willing to die for love, not just for the regime, as we were. The idea that people could choose their own destinies fascinated me. This pirated Hollywood movie gave me my first small taste of freedom.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“A second chance? I thought. A second chance is what criminals get. I knew I wasn’t a criminal; I did what I had to do to survive and save my family.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“In North Korea, even arithmetic is a propaganda tool. A typical problem would go like this: “If you kill one American bastard and your comrade kills two, how many dead American bastards do you have?”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom



“As North Koreans, we were innocent in a way that I cannot fully explain.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“It amazed me how quickly a lie loses its power in the face of truth.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“Why does this person, who doesn’t even speak our language, care so much about us that he is willing to risk his life for us? It moved us both to tears. I said a silent prayer of thanks as we became a part of the night.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“They need to control you through your emotions, making you a slave to the state by destroying your individuality, and your ability to react to situations based on your own experience of the world.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“when you have more words to describe the world, you increase your ability to think complex thoughts.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom



“I was beginning to realize that all the food in the world, and all the running shoes, could not make me happy. The material things were worthless. I had lost my family. I wasn’t loved, I wasn’t free, and I wasn’t safe. I was alive, but everything that made life worth living was gone.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“There were so many desperate people on the streets crying for help that you had to shut off your heart or the pain would be too much. After a while you don't care anymore. And that is what hell is like.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“and I particularly loved biographies because they were about people who had to overcome obstacles or prejudices to get ahead. They made me think I could make it when nobody else believed in me, when even I didn’t believe in myself.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“In the free world, children dream about what they want to be when they grow up and how they can use their talents. When I was four and five years old, my only adult ambition was to buy as much bread as I liked and eat all of it.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“But there was human intimacy and connection, something that is hard to find in the modern world I inhabit today.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom



“I understand that sometimes the only way we can survive our own memories is to shape them into a story that makes sense out of events that seem inexplicable.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“When you have so little, just the smallest thing can make you happy”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“Along my journey I have seen the horrors that humans can inflict on one another, but I've also witnessed acts of tenderness and kindness and sacrifice in the worst imaginable circumstances. I know that it is possible to lose part of your humanity in order to survive. But I also know that the spark of human dignity is never completely extinguished, and that given the oxygen of freedom and the power of love, it can grow again.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“I could not feel, smell, see, hear, or taste the world around me. If I had allowed myself to experience these things in all their intensity, I might have lost my mind. If I had allowed myself to cry, I might never have been able to stop. So I survived, but I never felt joy, never felt safe.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“North Koreans have two stories running in their heads at all times, like trains on parallel tracks. One is what you are taught to believe; the other is what you see with your own eyes. It wasn’t until I escaped to South Korea and read a translation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four that I found a word for this peculiar condition: doublethink. This is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in your mind at the same time—and somehow not go crazy. This “doublethink” is how you can shout slogans denouncing capitalism in the morning, then browse through the market in the afternoon to buy smuggled South Korean cosmetics. It”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom



“My mother had fought to hold on to her belief that she lived in a good country. She was shocked and saddened to realize how corrupt and pitiless North Korea had become. Now she was even more convinced that she couldn’t let her daughters grow up in such a place. We had to get out as soon as possible.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“...we all have our own deserts. Thet may not be the same as my desert, but we all have to cross them to find a purpose in life and be free.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“I learned something important from my short time as a market vendor: once you start trading for yourself, you start thinking for yourself. Before the public distribution system collapsed, the government alone decided who would survive and who would starve. The markets took away the government’s control.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“I couldn't imagine it was possible for something so beautiful to exist in the same world as me.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“I never knew freedom could be such a cruel and difficult thing. Until now, I had always thought that being free meant being able to wear jeans and watch whatever movies I wanted without worrying about being arrested. Now I realized that I had to think all the time -- and it was exhausting. There were times when I wondered whether, if it wasn't for the constant hunger, I would be better off in North Korea, where all my thinking and all my choics were taken care of for me.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom



“When you have so little, just the smallest thing can make you happy—and”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“Ich hatte ja nicht geahnt, dass Wissen solche Glücksgefühle auslösen konnte. Als ich klein war, träumte ich davon einen ganzen Haufen Brot essen zu können. Jetzt waren meine Träumer größer geworden.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“as I began to write this book, I realized that without the whole truth my life would have no power, no real meaning.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“In second grade we were taught simple math, but not the way it is taught in other countries. In North Korea, even arithmetic is a propaganda tool. A typical problem would go like this: “If you kill one American bastard and your comrade kills two, how many dead American bastards do you have?”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom


“I bout a bag of tortilla chips that was almost as big as me. And I bought some work clothes and a pair of Adidas that I could never imagine affording before in my life.

So far, America was very impressive.”
― Yeonmi Park, quote from In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom



About the author

Yeonmi Park
Born place: in Hyesan, Korea, Democratic People's Republic of
Born date October 4, 1993
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