In Order to Live

  • by Yeonmi Park
  • Narrated by Eji Kim
  • 9 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Yeonmi Park was not dreaming of freedom when she escaped from North Korea. She didn't even know what it meant to be free. All she knew was that she was running for her life, that if she and her family stayed behind they would die - from starvation, or disease, or even execution.
In Order to Live is the story of Park's struggle to survive in the darkest, most repressive country on earth; her harrowing escape to South Korea through China's underworld of smugglers and human traffickers; and her emergence as a leading human rights activist - all before her 21st birthday.
Park was born to a family of civil servants in the North Korean city of Hyesan, along the Chinese border. She grew up in a society in which the regime controls everything you do, everything you learn, where you go, what you say, even what you think. In this warped world, famine was a way of life and minor offenses, such as watching foreign videos, could prove fatal.
Park's family was relatively privileged until her father, a party member, was arrested for smuggling. After that, life in North Korea became a ceaseless battle against starvation. Escaping with her mother, Park began a long journey of unspeakable hardship and degradation through China and Mongolia, which finally yielded her freedom in South Korea. Today, Park is an influential leader of the younger generations of Korean dissidents and an internationally recognized advocate for human rights around the world.
In the end, In Order to Live is about the resilience of the human spirit and the transcendent power of love to overcome the most ghastly horrors and the most hopeless circumstances. "I had to learn how to love others," says Yeonmi Park. "And now I am willing to die for them."


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Satisfactory Story Marred by Atrocious Narration

Who on earth let this cat out of the bag?!?
Okay, let me start again. This was a Pre-Order with no chance to hear a sample, but I'm doing research on North Korea and, especially, defectors. So I snapped this book up with joy. And it's a fair enough story, I mean, it covers all the bases, but if you've heard some of the other books, you've heard this one. This one does, however, touch on the trafficking of women which I hadn't heard before and which is interesting, angering, shocking, and which makes you want to do something. Of course, and this is no spoiler, Yeonmi witnesses her mother's brutal rape and then is very blase about it all... even tho' she's a teenager and is no longer naive.
That's one of the aggravating things about the book: The complete and utter lack of reaction, the lack of willingness to take responsibility, to show emotion, to try at times. I'm going to be generous and chalk it up to being raised in a country where you're flat-out told what to think, what to feel, what to choose every single moment of your life. Yes?
Okay, now back to the REALLY aggravating bit about the book: Who thought the narrator could read?!? This was the most halting, choppy, emotionless delivery of what should've been a breathtaking and heartfelt story.
The story kept me going.
The narration damned near killed me.
Sample it well before purchase, I beg of you. Don't pull your hair out as I did...
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- Gillian "SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!"


Incredible story. I wish Americans cherished freedom and liberty as much as Ms Parks and guarded against their erosion by governments.

I'm left feeling helpless regarding the people of N Korea. How can we help end this madness?

Well done Ms Parks!
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- A. Munday

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-29-2015
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio