Prominent North Korean defector cancels trip to Taiwan

2017/04/07 20:14:27
(Picture downloaded from Yeonmi Park's Facebook page)

(Picture downloaded from Yeonmi Park's Facebook page)

Taipei, April 7 (CNA) The author of a heartbreaking memoir "In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom" has canceled her scheduled seven-day visit of Taiwan without giving a reason, the book's Taiwan publisher said Friday.

Locus Publishing Company (大塊文化出版公司) said Yeonmi Park (朴研美), who fled North Korea in 2007 with her mother when she was 13, was invited to Hong Kong last week.

She originally planned to fly directly to Taiwan next Monday after concluding her trip in Hong Kong, but when the company contacted her, it received notification that the trip had been canceled.

Park, born in North Korea in October 1993, is one of only a few North Korean defectors who have retained their real names and told their personal stories of living in North Korea.

Born into an educated family, Park and her family were relatively well off until North Korea's economic collapse in the 1990s.

Her father had to turn to black market trading to support the family, and he was eventually imprisoned and tortured for his actions.

The family was branded as criminals forced to the margins of North Korean society, and Park was eventually smuggled into China weighing a mere 60 pounds.

She wrote that if her family had stayed behind, "we would probably die -- from starvation, from disease, from the inhuman conditions of a prison labor camp."

The memoir published in English in 2015 tells how she and her mother risked their lives to cross the Yalu River into China and struggled to live under the influence of human traffickers before making their way into South Korea in 2009.

Park rose to global prominence after she delivered a speech at the One Young World 2014 Summit in Dublin, Ireland -- an annual summit that gathers young people from around the world to develop solutions to global problems.

Her memoir has been translated into French, German, Spanish and Japanese.

Locus published the Chinese version last August, and it has sold more than 100,000 copies.

(By Sabine Cheng and Lilian Wu)
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