Pretty law student becomes well-known worldwide after escaping N Korea

Pretty law student becomes well-known worldwide after escaping N Korea

North Korean refugee Park Yeon-mi was born in 1993, is 21 years old, and is a third year college student. In 2009 she, along with her family, passed through many places to go from North Korea to South Korea.

In the five years since, she has lived in South Korea's capital of Seoul and is currently studying law at Dongguk University. However, before that, she lived with her parents and younger sister in Hyesan, the capital of Ryanggang province in North Korea's north.

Park Yeon-mi is now a minor celebrity, often taking television interviews wearing a smile, as well as using Facebook, Twitter, Skype, WeChat and other tools to interact with various countries' netizens on social media.

She also often tours various countries, telling people about those complex memories and stories that happened around her, report NetEase and chinaSmack

Next month, Park Yeon-mi will be going to the annual World Youth Leadership Summit in Dublin, the capital of Ireland.

There, she will meet former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Irish rock and roll singer Bob Geldof, world circumnavigator Ellen MacArthur, and other famous individuals.

Currently, she stays in Seoul, South Korea's capital, surrounded by high-rise buildings, luxury cars everywhere, and ten-lane highways. It is about 50 kilometers away from the North Korean border.

When she gets caught up remembering the past, she always feels as if she has gone to another planet.

"I am currently in university, studying law. I feel like I am a different person now.

"When I was in North Korea, no one would ask me, 'what do you think', 'what do you want to do in the future', 'what is your dream'. Now, I have free will."

Park has a little sister. Her father was a government civil servant in Hyesan city. During the worst years of the 1990s, her father relied on secretly selling precious metals to scratch out a living up until 2002, when her father was sentenced to prison for "illegal conduct".

Three years later in 2005, Park Yeon-mi's father was "fortunate" to get out of prison because of intestinal cancer. She remembers when she saw her father for the first time, and how he no longer looked as he once did.

In 2007, Park Yeon-mi's little sister secretly left North Korea, and her family had no choice but to follow in search of her. She remembers her and her father crossing three mountains, a river, passing through many places for two years before arriving in Mongolia in 2009, and afterward South Korea. Throughout it all, they found no sign of her younger sister.

In 2008, Park Yeon-mi's father died from illness at 45.

16-year-old Park Yeon-mi and her mother started a new life in South Korea. At first, they worked as a salesperson and service staff, their income allowing Park Yeon-mi to return to school.

At present, she is already in her third year at at Dongguk University.

In April this year, she was reunited with her long-lost younger sister.

Park Yeon-mi says that in the three years since 2011 when North Korean leader Kin Jong-il passed away, she and her mother have found it hard to believe it to be true, having thought of Kim Jong-il as a leader like a god.

She hopes to continue her studies in the United States after graduation, to study her favoured field of international relations., and wants to work in the United Nations' humanitarian organs in the future, and contribute what she can.

She told reporters that her family and her have a very good life now, but said: "I hope I can return to North Korea one day, to rebury my father in our homeland, even if it has to be my children who will do this for me."

However, she feels that it remains very difficult to imagine when this day will come.

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