Monday, December 22, 2014

Yeonmi Park: The Defector Who Fooled the World

Yeonmi Park: The Defector Who Fooled the World

I’m writing this message because I care about human rights and North Korean defectors. I was initially a big supporter of Yeonmi Park until I read Mary Ann Jolley’s exposé at the Diplomat.com. Then I realized something was very wrong with Yeonmi’s story. So I began to do some research. The more I researched, the more shocked and outraged I became at the extent of her lies.

Many people are still unaware of Jolley’s article or are not willing to believe that Yeonmi is misleading us. I made this document for everyone to see the truth. Ms. Park is doing serious harm to the human rights field and to North Korean defectors. After she is exposed, many people around the world are going to feel betrayed. They may not be willing to listen or care about other defectors. That would be a tragic mistake, since many other defectors are surely honest and deserve our support.

The other reason I made this document was the suspicious Yeonmi Park Foundation website. Mary Ann Jolley pointed out that the website had a PayPal donate button, but there was no mention of how the money would be used. I was concerned that honest people who want to help defectors might be sending their money into the wrong hands. I was relieved when Yeonmi responded to the Diplomat.com article by taking her foundation website down.

Her explanation (“it was a dummy website made by a friend that accidentally went live and couldn’t really receive donations”) is obviously very dubious. We should thank Jolley for helping to ensure that donations to defectors go through reputable charities, with oversight and clear guidelines for how the money will be used.

I’m still very concerned that Yeonmi and some of the people around her have a high potential to mislead others and harm North Korean defector causes. So I’m sending this document out in the hopes that you will help spread the truth. This information can be shared via email, as a web-link from my blogger website or downloaded as a PDF at Scribd.com.

I’ve divided this document into four parts. Part I includes the most serious questions for Yeonmi. I ask that if Yeonmi responds to these questions, she do it in the order that the questions are posed. I think the responses to the Diplomat.com exposé by Yeonmi and her promoter, Casey Lartigue Jr., were very misleading and vague. I’ve challenged their responses in Part II. Part III includes some of Yeonmi’s other suspicious and inconsistent stories, but I don't want any questions from Part III to be discussed until Part I is addressed first. People have been distracted or confused by less important questions while missing the big picture. Part IV is the conclusion.

PART I: KEY QUESTIONS FOR YEONMI PARK

YEONMI’S ESCAPE FROM NORTH KOREA:

Q1: DID YEONMI CROSS THE BORDER INTO CHINA SAFELY WITH BOTH PARENTS (VERSION 1), OR WAS HER MOM RAPED IN FRONT OF HER BECAUSE HER FATHER WAS NOT THERE TO PROTECT THEM (VERSION 2)?


VERSION 1: YEONMI AND HER PARENTS CROSSED THE BORDER TOGETHER.

THE FATHER WAS THERE TO PROTECT THEM, AND THERE IS NO MENTION OF THE RAPE STORY.

I Am a North Korean Millennial - Yeonmi Park (July 10, 2014)

7:58 I went to China with my family - so my mom, my father, and I had an older sister…but I lost her. Three people went to China, and for the first time I couldn’t believe my eyes.


Insight: S2014 Ep8 - Changing a Mindset (April 8, 2014 talk show interview)

45:00 - “In 2007, I left North Korea with my mom and my father, without my sister.



5:30-5:40 - I escaped with my mom and father – the three of us.”


TEDxHangang 5th Event 박연미 | 박연미 | TEDxHangang (July 26, 2014)

5:15 (Yeonmi speaking Korean) “I decided with my parents to leave the country… I crossed the Yalu River.”


At just 16, Eun-mi fled the country with a friend. Her family was devastated. Desperate to find her sister, Yeon-mi and her parents walked across the mountains to the border, where they bribed guards to cross the Tumen River to China. But there was no sign of Eun-mi.


(Journalist Mary Ann Jolley): Park told us and a libertarian radio station in San Francisco earlier this year that four days after her older sister fled the country, she and her mother and father crossed to China together.
In her interview with us she recalled the feeling she had as she crossed the river And there were cars to get us because of the connections [her father’s business connections] with Chinese people and then we went to China directly.”


Comment: In numerous interviews and her own speeches, Yeonmi says that she crossed the border into China with her mom and dad.
In these speeches and interviews before she became famous, she never mentions the story of her mother being raped.


************* SUDDENLY, THE STORY CHANGED ******************


VERSION 2: ONLY YEONMI AND HER MOM CROSSED THE BORDER INTO CHINA (WITHOUT HER FATHER), AND SINCE THEY WERE VULNERABLE, YEONMI’S MOTHER WAS RAPED.
CONSIDERING THE ABRUPT CHANGE IN NARRATIVE, DOES ANYONE HONESTLY BELIEVE THIS RAPE STORY IS TRUE?

And so, on the night of March 30 2007, Yeonmi and her mother made their way towards the border with the help of a people smuggler. Yeonmi’s father stayed behind, to minimise the risks. They crossed three mountains and finally came to a frozen river that separated the two countries.
When Yeonmi stopped she found herself in the Chinese province of Jilin. Here, Yeonmi and her mother set about trying to find her sister. But she was nowhere to be found and the local people smugglers refused to help. One even threatened to turn them in to Chinese authorities unless he was allowed to have sex with Yeonmi.
Yeonmi’s mother implored the man to leave her daughter alone and offered herself instead.She had no choice,’ Yeonmi says. ‘Literally, in front of me, he raped her.’
A few days later Yeonmi’s father, who had become concerned about their lengthy absence, slipped across the border and managed to join them.



Note: Previously, Yeonmi said that her parents bribed border guards to get across the border. Now, Yeonmi is saying that she and her mother were guided across by a people smuggler.




On the night of March 30, 2007, Yeonmi and her mother set out to join Eunmi. Guided by a people smuggler, they crossed a frozen river that separated the two countries.
When they arrived in the Chinese province of Jilin, local authorities refused to help them find Eunmi. One demanded to have sex with Yeonmi, who was barely 14, and threatened to send her and her mother back to North Korea if she didn’t oblige. When her mother begged for mercy, she was raped instead. “She told me to turn around, but I could hear her crying. It seemed like he had done this a thousand times.”
Soon they were joined by Yeonmi’s father.



Note: The same inconsistencies are repeated in this article, but now she claims it was a local authority in China who raped her mother instead of a people smuggler.

Comment: Crossing the border from North Korea to China is very risky and dangerous. Many North Koreans get caught trying and sent to prison. After Yeonmi’s sister went missing, would the family risk further separation by leaving the father behind in North Korea, while the mother and young daughter venture into China alone? The family would have to risk two separate border crossings, plus the potential trafficking of Yeonmi and her mom, instead of all going together.
Yeonmi’s original story, that she and her parents crossed the border together, is probably true, which would make the story of her mother’s rape false.


Park was referring to a moment when, separated from her father, her mother was raped in front of her by a people smuggler who had threatened to turn them into the Chinese authorities unless he could have sex with the 13-year-old Park. Desperate to protect her daughter, her mother offered herself instead.


When I was 13, I saw my mother raped in front of my own eyes. The rapist targeted me and wanted to have sex with me. I didn’t even know the word sex. My mother got raped instead, and she sacrificed herself to be raped for me.”


Comment: Look at the dates of when she is telling different versions of her escape story.
Version 1 of her escape story (she crossed with her parents, no mention of rape) occurred earlier in 2014, when she was lesser known.
After the growing media attention, she suddenly starts telling Version 2 (she only crossed the border with her mom, and her mom was raped).

Q2: DID YEONMI WITNESS OR EXPERIENCE STARVATION/EATING GRASS TO SURVIVE IN NORTH KOREA?

VERSION ONE: YEONMI NEVER EVEN SAW ANYONE STARVING OR EATING GRASS TO SURVIVE, AND SHE DEFINITELY DIDN’T EXPERIENCE THAT HERSELF.


Yeonmi on the South Korean talk show “Now On My Way to Meet You,” featuring North Korean defectors telling stories about their lives

Originally published on Jan 20, 2013 http://tv.ichannela.com/meetnow
[
이제 만나러 갑니다] 2013/01/20방송 58

(During this show, Yeonmi’s pseudonym was “Yae-ju”)

(Conversation from 2:00-4:00 in the YouTube clip)

(Host Nam Hee Seok): When other members on the show mentioned that they were eating grass and starving, Yae-ju (Yeonmi) said, “We didn’t have that kind of situation in North Korea!”

Why did she say that? She didn’t witness that kind of situation when she was young?

(Yeonmi’s Mom): “We were not that rich, but at least we weren’t suffering.”

(Her mom then says that other North Koreans would ask Yae-ju (Yeonmi) about what kind of rice she was eating, since others couldn’t afford to eat white rice. But Yeonmi only ate white rice.)

Mom: Her father did his best to give his kids a better life, so…the kids didn’t know the truth about what was going on in North Korea. So when Yae-ju (Yeonmi) came on this show, it was her opportunity to learn the real truth about North Korea” (from other members on this show).

Yeonmi’s Mom: Sometimes after filming, Yae-ju (Yeonmi) called me and asked, ‘Mom, am I really North Korean? Because I couldn’t understand what the other members on the show were talking about.’

She thought other members were totally lying (about the hunger and other hardships they witnessed and experienced).

Host: Right. When she came here for the first time, she said that they were lying!

Yeonmi’s Mom: Yes, but I watched that episode, and what the other members said is totally true.



COMMENT: SO…ON A TALK SHOW IN JANUARY 2013, LONG BEFORE SHE BECAME FAMOUS, YEONMI SAID SHE NEVER EVEN SAW ANYONE STARVING OR EATING GRASS TO SURVIVE.



**AFTER INCREASING MEDIA ATTENTION, HER STORY CHANGED AGAIN **



VERSION TWO: YEONMI NOW SAYS SHE WITNESSED OTHERS STARVING/EATING GRASS AND BUGS, AND YEONMI ACTUALLY STARVED AND ATE GRASS/BUGS TO SURVIVE.


BBC News: 'I escaped death in North Korea' (October 29, 2014)

2:18 (Yeonmi) Just only what we knew was that if we are staying here, we were going to die from (lack of) food… I was the one who starved… I literally had to eat grass, dragonflies and frozen potatoes.



Yeonmi, then nine, and her 11-year-old sister, Eunmi, lived on their own during that time, eating rice, dragonflies, frogs, and grass to survive.



Yeonmi and her sister, Eunmi were left to fend for themselves, at the age of nine and 11, foraging on the mountainsides for grasses, plants, frogs and even dragonflies to avoid starving to death. "Everything I used to see, I ate them," she said.
Asked if any adults around knew the children were surviving alone, Yeonmi tries to explain.
"People were dying there. They don't care... most people are just hungry and that's why they don't have the spirit or time to take care of other people."



Hong Kong Special [North Korea Today (feat. Casey & Yeonmi)] September 2014

3:16 (Yeonmi) During the Great Famine time, and even not during the Great Famine, for me to watch dead bodies was my routine life. That’s how many people were dying from (lack of) food, and starving.




Q3: WHAT HAPPENED TO YEONMI AND HER SISTER AFTER THEIR PARENTS WERE IMPRISONED?

VERSION ONE: THEY WERE ALL SEPARATED. YEONMI LIVED WITH HER AUNT AND HER SISTER LIVED WITH HER UNCLE.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0288zd0 (BBC Radio interview October 17, 2014)

4:10 (Yeonmi) After my mother and father went to prison, the four of us all separated. So my sister went to my uncle’s house, and I went to my aunt’s house -- and I lived there for three years.



VERSION TWO: YEONMI (9) AND HER SISTER (11) LIVED ALONE, AND STRUGGLED TO SURVIVE BY EATING GRASS, BUGS, ETC.


Her mother, too, was interrogated and thrown into jail. Yeonmi and her sister, Eunmi were left to fend for themselves, at the age of nine and 11, foraging on the mountainsides for grasses, plants, frogs and even dragonflies to avoid starving to death. "Everything I used to see, I ate them," she said.


Yeonmi’s speech at the One Young World Summit in Dublin

2:10 (James Chau) I asked her, where did you live? And she said, “With my sister.” (her sister was 11 and Yeonmi was 9).

2:22 They survived by going into the mountains and picking the grass and the flowers for their food.




2:18 (reporter) Who looked after you?

2:20 (Yeonmi) Nobody. My sister and I (looked after ourselves) We had to find ways to eat and I had to learn how to cook.

2:50 I ate dragonflies and frogs on the mountain.




The girls ate dragonflies, frogs, tree bark, and grass… “We had to survive,” says Yeonmi.





YEONMI’S PUBLIC EXECUTION STORY

Q4: DID YEONMI REALLY SEE HER BEST FRIEND’S MOM PUBLICLY EXECUTED IN 2002?
--DUE TO SOUTH KOREAN DRAMAS, A HOLLYWOOD MOVIE OR A JAMES BOND MOVIE?
--EXECUTED IN A STADIUM, OR ON THE STREET?
--HOW OLD WAS YEONMI AT THE TIME, ELEVEN OR NINE?

YEONMI PARK: (One of my best friends), her mum saw some like American dramas or like South Korean dramas and then she got caught and then they decided to like give her like punishment as like public execution. So I went there with her, my friends, and there I…"
JENNY BROCKIE: This was to see your friend's mother executed?
YEONMI PARK: Yeah, like public execution in a big stadium. I must be there, it's like I need to.
JENNY BROCKIE: How old were you when that happened?
YEONMI PARK: I was eleven and I was with my friends.


When she was nine, she was forced to watch her best friend's mother being executed on the street before her eyes.
Her only crime had been she had watched a James Bond movie and shared the DVDs with neighbours.
Watching her body crumble to the ground was a seismic moment in how Yeonmi viewed the world.


Yeonmi Park was nine years old when she was invited to watch her best friend’s mother be shot.
Her crime was having watched South Korean films and lending the DVDs to friends. Her punishment in this most paranoid of dictatorships was death by firing squad.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0288zd0 (Yeonmi’s interview with BBC Radio: October 16, 2014)
2:05- 2:45 My best friend’s mom was killed for watching a Hollywood movie.


When she was nine years old, Park was forced to attend the execution of her classmate’s mother. Her crime? She had lent a South Korean movie to a friend. The townsfolk were gathered in a large stadium to watch the punishment.
She got killed in front of us,” said Park, now 20 years-old. “I was standing next to her daughter - my whole school had to go.”
Question: I read that during a public execution in North Korea, only the family members of the victim are forced to watch in the front row, without anyone else next to them. Is this true? If so, could Yeonmi really have been standing next to her friend during the execution?


The woman stood accused of watching a contraband James Bond DVD and leant it to friends…It’s more than a decade later and she calmly recalls the shots ringing out, followed by an explosion of blood.

Yeonmi’s speech at the One Young World Summit in Dublin

10:33 (Yeonmi) When I was 9 years old, I saw my friend’s mother publicly executed. Her crime? Watching a Hollywood movie.

But in Hong Kong a few months ago, she told an audience the woman had been caught watching South Korean DVDs.
Irish Independent journalist, Nicola Anderson, in a recent online video interview with Park seemed confused and asked her, “It was a movie from South Korea wasn’t it?” Park’s response was, “No, Hollywood movie, James Bond.”
When Park was nine, which would have been around 2002, she says she saw her best friend’s mother executed at a stadium in Hyesan.
But, according to several North Korean defectors from Hyesan who didn’t want to be identified for fear of reprisal, public executions only ever took place on the outskirts of the city, mostly at the airport, never in the stadium or streets, and there were none after 2000 – the last they recall was a mass execution of ten or eleven people in 1999.


YEONMI’S FATHER’S BURIAL

Q5: WAS HER FATHER’S BODY BURIED, OR WAS HE CREMATED? WHO BURIED HER FATHER’S BODY (OR ASHES)?

MOTHER (Translation): We paid two people to help carry his body. They went deep into the mountains and Yeon-mi went with them. Yeon-mi carried her father's body.
YEON-MI PARK: And then at 3 a.m. we had to move his body. Everybody's sleeping and then I buried him. Like, at midnight, by myself and I was sitting there and it was so cold. There was nobody I could call. There was nobody who came to my father's funeral. Nobody knows.


At 7.30 one cold January morning, Yeonmi’s father died. Without documents and facing arrest and deportation if they were caught by Chinese police, his family were forced to bribe a local crematorium to destroy his body by night.
At three the following morning, Yeonmi and her mother took his remains to a nearby mountain and secretly buried them.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0288zd0 (Yeonmi’s interview with BBC Radio: October 16, 2014)
8:35 I buried my father by myself in the mountain


Q6: WHAT WERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HER FATHER’S IMPRISONMENT?

The N. Korean TV Star Standing Up To Kim Jong-Un (mini-documentary about Yeonmi, featuring interviews with Yeonmi and her mother)

3:09 When Yeonmi was 8, her father was arrested for smuggling goods to China.

Note: Yeonmi was 8 in 2001.


I Am a North Korean Millennial - Yeonmi Park (July 10, 2014)

2:26 In 2004, my whole world came crashing down. My father, my hero was arrested for his illegal trading business.

It was three long years before I saw my father again.

Note: In 2004, Yeonmi was 11. Three years later (in 2007), he was released, when Yeonmi was 14.


Yeonmi’s TEDx Talk in Bath, UK (November 2014)


1:52 In 2002, when I was 9 years old, my whole world came crashing down. My hero - my father - got arrested for his illegal business.

5:53 In 2007, after my father got out of prison to get treatment, we decided to escape… Me and my mother went to China. We climbed three mountains and crossed the frozen river.

Note: In 2002, Yeonmi was 9. Above, she said he was in prison for 3 years (2004-2007).

Here, she says he was in prison for 5 years, from 2002-2007.



Yeonmi, then nine, and her 11-year-old sister, Eunmi, lived on their own during that time, eating rice, dragonflies, frogs, and grass to survive. After three years, Yeonmi’s father bribed his way out of prison but the brutal prison conditions had taken a toll on his health.
In 2006, they moved to the countryside, close to the Chinese border. Yeonmi’s father was forced to forage for food, on a lucky day returning with black, frozen potatoes. “We couldn’t maintain our lives there because we were so hungry,” she says. “We had to defect.” 
Note: Above, Yeonmi’s father was released from prison for medical treatment in 2007. Here, he bribed his way out of prison in 2006.


Park says her father was sentenced to 17 or 18 years in prison. Her mother told us he was initially sentenced to a year, but later it was increased to ten years.


Q7: WHAT WERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HER MOTHER’S IMPRISONMENT?

Yeonmi’s speech at the One Young World Summit in Dublin

2:05 (James Chau) Her mother was interrogated for three years and taken to prison as well.

2:10 I asked her, where did you live? And she said, “With my sister.” (her sister was 11 and Yeonmi was 9).

2:22 They survived by going into the mountains and picking the grass and the flowers for their food.

2:38 Three years later her mother was released


Park’s mother told us prosecutors interrogated her on and off for about a year – sometimes at home in Hyesan and sometimes elsewhere, because she had worked in her husband’s trading business. But, in a recent BBC radio interview, Park claimed her mother was imprisoned for six months



Her mother was interrogated and sent to prison for two years. Yeonmi, then nine, and her 11-year-old sister, Eunmi, lived on their own during that time, eating rice, dragonflies, frogs, and grass to survive.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0288zd0 (BBC Radio interview October 17, 2014)

3:50 My mother went to prison for 6 months.


Video (1:12) “My mom was interrogated for two years and then she went to prison by breaking a law to move.

Q8: WAS YEONMI REALLY FORCED TO STRIP NAKED EVERY DAY (FOR MONTHS) WHILE SHE WAS AT A DETENTION CENTER IN MONGOLIA?

Yeonmi and her mother were taken to a detention center in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, where Yeonmi was forced to remove all of her clothes every day for months. “I was a little girl and felt so ashamed. I kept thinking, Why do these people have the privilege to control me like this? I’m human too, but I wasn’t treated like one.”
Note: In all of her other speeches and interviews, Yeonmi never mentioned this. Her story seems to change and grow worse with each interview.


Professor Shi-eun Yu, who worked as a counselor at the South Korean processing center for North Korean refugees, Hanawon, for two years in the early 2000s, and Professor Kim Hyun-ah who worked there for five years in the mid 2000s both told us they had never heard of anyone being stripped naked in a detention center in Mongolia.
According to Yu, “In the past, the South Korean government has sent counselors over to Mongolia to help North Korean defectors in detention… so how can defectors be stripped naked everyday? It would cause them more psychological distress. It’s not possible,” she said.
Kim said that compared to other countries like Thailand and Russia, Mongolia is very supportive towards North Korean defectors and that it’s highly unlikely that defectors would have been subjected to months of stripping.


Comment: Yeonmi’s story is not only wildly inconsistent, it also grows more horrific over time. New tales of sexual abuse are added as she becomes more famous. Suddenly, (in version 2) her mother was raped.
In this article, Yeonmi was forced to strip naked every day for months. Not surprisingly, her claim was rejected by experts with direct knowledge of defectors and their treatment in Mongolian detention centers.


Q9: WHAT WAS THE FAMILY’S PLAN AFTER YEONMI’S SISTER SUDDENLY FLED ACROSS THE BORDER INTO CHINA?

But before the family could put its plan into action, Eunmi, Yeonmi’s 16-year-old sister, fled across the border with a friend without telling them. Terrified about how she might fare on her own, Yeonmi and her mother decided to follow her over the border and bring her home. Once reunited, the family would attempt a second escape altogether.

Comment: It is extremely dangerous and risky for a North Korean to cross the border with China. So Yeonmi and her mom supposedly decided to risk slipping into China without her father to find the sister (Eunmi) in China, then they were going to sneak Eunmi back across the border to North Korea, and then the whole family was going to attempt to secretly cross the border again?

The whole family was already committed to escaping before Eunmi abruptly fled by herself. Wouldn’t the father just go with Yeonmi and her mom into China to look for the missing sister (Eunmi)? That would only require the family to cross the border once, together.

That was Yeonmi’s original story: “I crossed the border with my mother and father together,” before she started telling version 2 of her escape story (“my father wasn’t with us so my mother was raped”). Her original story of the three family members crossing together makes much more sense, as the risk of capture or separation would be greatly reduced.

According to version 2, there were three planned border crossings -- greatly increasing the family’s chances of being separated or captured by the authorities. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.


Q10: WHAT HAPPENED AFTER YEONMI AND HER FAMILY ESCAPED NORTH KOREA AND ARRIVED IN CHINA?


The N. Korean TV Star Standing Up To Kim Jong-Un (mini-documentary about Yeonmi, featuring interviews with Yeonmi and her mother)
(4:13) At just 16, Eun-mi fled the country with a friend. Her family was devastated. Desperate to find her sister, Yeon-mi and her parents walked across the mountains to the border, where they bribed guards to cross the Tumen River to China. But there was no sign of Eun-mi.
4:35 (Yeonmi) We called North Korea after we escaped. And they were saying the people were trying to rape her (Yeonmi’s sister). And she didn’t say yes to them so they killed her.”


Question: So Yeonmi and her parents (she doesn’t mention the rape story in this interview) went to China to find her sister, Eunmi, who already fled across the border into China four days earlier.
But in China, Yeonmi’s family called back into North Korea (where they had just come from), to ask people where her sister was … and they were told that Eunmi was killed by some people because she rejected their attempts to rape her?


(End of Part I)


Request: I hope Ms. Park will respond to at least some of these questions. I would ask her to respond to them in the order they are posed on this document. I urge her not to sidestep any of these issues or mislead people with vague or dishonest responses.


PART II: YEONMI AND HER PROMOTER, CASEY LARTIGUE JR., RESPOND TO THE DIPLOMAT.COM ARTICLE. I RESPOND TO THEM WITH FURTHER QUESTIONS.


Q11: WHY DIDN’T PARK OR LARTIGUE RESPOND TO JOLLEY’S CRITICISM OF YEONMI’S VASTLY DIFFERENT ESCAPE STORIES (QUESTION 1 ABOVE)? WHY DIDN’T THEY RESPOND TO QUESTION 3, OR OTHER SERIOUS INCONSISTENCIES POINTED OUT BY JOLLEY?


Q12: DID YEONMI WITNESS OR EXPERIENCE STARVATION/EATING GRASS TO SURVIVE IN NORTH KOREA? (question 2 above in Part I)

Rushing to judgment on a defector (Casey Lartigue’s response to Yeonmi’s criticism in the Diplomat.com article)

By Casey Lartigue, Jr

When Jolley gets things half-right, she concludes the worst about Park. She cites an exchange during our podcast "North Korea Today, featuring Casey and Yeonmi." We had been invited to do a special live podcast in front of an audience at an exhibition about North Korean street children. Park wanted to avoid overshadowing the street children feature with her own story.
Jolley twists this to even question if Park had ever eaten grass or dragonflies because she didn't mention it then. We did a separate podcast in which Park talked in detail about eating dragonflies, wild boar, grasshoppers, and sparrows when she was in North Korea.

Comment: This is a totally misleading and disingenuous response. Lartigue misdirects and misleads the reader by commenting about the podcast, when he clearly knows that’s not the point.
Refer to question two above. Mary Ann Jolley pointed out that on a South Korean talk show in early 2013 (long before Yeonmi became famous or made any podcasts with Lartigue), Yeonmi said: “I never saw anyone eating grass or bugs to survive in North Korea. I think other defectors who claim this are lying.”
Later, Yeonmi’s story drastically changed, and Yeonmi claimed that she even ate grass and bugs to survive.
Mr. Lartigue, why don’t you respond directly to this massive contradiction in Yeonmi’s story?


Q13: DID YEONMI REALLY SEE HER BEST FRIEND’S MOM PUBLICLY EXECUTED IN 2002? (question 4 above)

UPDATE: A Response from Yeonmi Park
(December 2014, Yeonmi’s response to her criticism in the Diplomat article)
I never said that I saw executions in Hyesan.
My friends’ mother was executed in a small city in central North Korea where my mother still has relatives (which is why I don’t want to name it).


Question 13A: (Check quotes below) Yeonmi said she grew up in Hyesan and then Pyongyang. Then, she moved back to Hyesan (not some small city in central North Korea) after her father’s arrest.
She also said it was her classmate’s/best friend’s mother who was publicly executed, and her whole school had to attend the execution.
So how can we believe that Yeonmi’s school and classmate/best friend were located in some small city in central North Korea? According to her quote below, she had moved back to Hyesan, and she has never mentioned this small city in central North Korea until now.



I Am a North Korean Millennial - Yeonmi Park (July 10, 2014)

2:26 In 2004, my whole world came crashing down. My father, my hero was arrested for his illegal trading business…And because of that, I could not live in Pyongyang anymore, so I had to go back to Hyesan.


Comment: So she was indeed back in Hyesan, not some small city in central North Korea.
Note: (In other versions of this story, Yeonmi said her father was arrested in 2002, when she was 9.) The question is where she was before and after his arrest. Based on her quote above, before the arrest, she was living in Pyongyang. After the arrest, she moved back to Hyesan.


When she was nine years old, Park was forced to attend the execution of her classmate’s mother. Her crime? She had lent a South Korean movie to a friend. The townsfolk were gathered in a large stadium to watch the punishment.
She got killed in front of us,” said Park, now 20 years-old. “I was standing next to her daughter - my whole school had to go.”


When she was nine, she was forced to watch her best friend's mother being executed on the street before her eyes.


Comment: Her school and best friend would be in Pyongyang or Hyesan, where Yeonmi lived, not some small city in central North Korea.


QUESTION 13B: (Check quotes below) How could Yeonmi suddenly arrive at a small city in central North Korea? (This is the first time she has ever mentioned it). After the father’s arrest in 2002, Yeonmi’s mother said she was interrogated “at home in Hyesan,” meaning they still lived in Hyesan, not some small city in central North Korea.
Also, Yeonmi said her mother was arrested for going to her hometown because North Korea has “no freedom of movement.” So how did Yeonmi suddenly arrive in this small city in central North Korea to witness a public execution (of her best friend’s mother, where Yeonmi’s whole school had to attend)?


Park’s mother told us prosecutors interrogated her on and off for about a year – sometimes at home in Hyesan and sometimes elsewhere, because she had worked in her husband’s trading business. But, in a recent BBC radio interview, Park claimed her mother was imprisoned for six months because she went to live back in her hometown after her husband was jailed and “because in North Korea there is no freedom of movement, not freedom of speech… it was against the law for the movement and that’s why she went to prison for half a year.”




QUESTION 13C: (Check below for quotes) Yeonmi first lived in Hyesan until about age 5, and then started moving back and forth between Hyesan and Pyongyang (starting at age 5), when her father moved to Pyongyang in 1998.
But she also said she saw public executions from ages 1-4. Can we believe this claim? And if so, where did she see them? They would’ve been in Hyesan, where she was living before age 5, but she now claims she never saw executions in Hyesan.


UPDATE: A Response from Yeonmi Park (December 2014, Yeonmi’s response to her criticism in the Diplomat article)
I never said that I saw executions in Hyesan.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0288zd0 (Yeonmi’s interview with BBC Radio: October 16, 2014)
(1:50) I saw public executions since I was age 1, 2, 3, 4.


Q14: WHAT WERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HER FATHER’S BURIAL? (QUESTION 5 ABOVE)
Rushing to judgment on a defector (Casey Lartigue’s response to Yeonmi’s criticism in the Diplomat.com article)

By Casey Lartigue, Jr

Jolley even questions details about the burial of Park's father, but I know the story better than she does.

Out of money, options and hope, with her father dying of cancer in China, Park and her mother agreed to be sold to a Chinese farmer. Park has mentioned such stories in speeches and interviews and sought to raise awareness without "sensationalizing" being sold in China.

(The farmer) also agreed to dispose of the body of Park's father upon his death.



Question: Now they were sold to a Chinese farmer? Another version of the story.

This is the first we are hearing about this. I cannot find any speeches or interviews where Yeonmi mentioned her or mother being sold to a Chinese farmer. This seems to be another lie heaped onto the rest.


Read Yeonmi’s various accounts of her father’s burial in Part I above. She either buried him alone, with locals, or cremated him first and then buried the ashes with her mother. None of the various versions include a farmer who purchased Yeonmi and her mother, and agreed to bury the body.

* And even if that were true, it doesn’t negate her inconsistent accounts of the actual burial.


Q15: WHAT SHOULD WE BELIEVE ABOUT THE YEONMI PARK FOUNDATION? SHE HAD A WEBSITE WITH A PAYPAL DONATE BUTTON, EVEN THOUGH SHE DIDN’T INDICATE HOW THE MONEY WOULD BE USED.
AND THEN, ONLY AFTER THE DIPLOMAT ARTICLE CAME OUT, SHE APOLOGIZED FOR THE “ACCIDENTAL WEBSITE.” … “IT WAS JUST A ‘DUMMY SITE BUILT BY A FRIEND’ THAT COULDN’T REALLY ACCEPT MONEY.”
Yeonmi Park is backed by the American Libertarian non-profit organization, Atlas Foundation. She’s one of its Young Voices and has recently started her own foundation based in New York – you can donate online through PayPal, but what exactly your money will be used for is not clear. What is clear though, is that “Yeonmi is travelling and speaking in 2014” and “is available for international speeches.”


UPDATE: A Response from Yeonmi Park (December 2014)
But one very important thing to correct:  I do not have a foundation.  The website was a dummy site built by a friend, and it was not supposed to be live. There was no way it could accept money, and I haven’t taken any.  I am so sorry for the confusion. The site has been taken down.


Question: Since Yeonmi has not commented publicly on how exactly she intends to help North Koreans in her own charitable endeavor, why was there even a website (or “dummy site”) with a donate button to begin with?
Question: And does anyone honestly believe this claim about the dummy site? After Yeonmi became famous, there was suddenly a Yeonmi Park foundation website with a PayPal donate button even though she never stated how the money would be used or exactly what she would do to help North Koreans.
I visited the website before it was taken down and I saw the PayPal donate button. It did not seem like a dummy site to me.




PART III: ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS
* Request to Yeonmi: I hope you do not even respond to Part III unless you have already responded separately to Part I and Part II questions. I only added Part III as further reference for others. I do not want it to distract from the much more important questions in Parts I and II.
Q16: DID YEONMI AND HER MOTHER REALLY WEAR THEIR MONGOLIAN PRISON UNIFORMS ONTO THE PLANE TO SEOUL?
James Chau introducing Yeonmi at the One Young World Summit in Dublin
5:40 (In Mongolia, you and your mother) were put into prison for 3 months…and through that, eventually, you found yourselves wearing prison clothes coming off a plane in South Korea.


Yeonmi and her mother were taken into custody and after 15 days were transferred to a detention centre in Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital. Several weeks later they were handed over to South Korean officials and on April 1 2009…Yeonmi stood at Ulan Bator’s Chinggis Khaan airport preparing to board a plane for Seoul.
A few hours later the plane touched down at Incheon airport in Seoul. Yeonmi stepped off the passenger jet wearing a shabby prison uniform.


Question: So the detention center in Mongolia did not give Yeonmi or her mom their original clothes back, and instead released them while they were wearing their prison uniforms?
And after Yeonmi and her mom were released into the custody of South Korean officials in Mongolia, those South Korean officials saw Yeonmi and her mom wearing prison uniforms, but the officials did not even give them some cheap clothes to change into?
The South Korean officials actually put Yeonmi and her mom on a plane to South Korea in prison uniforms?


Kim said that compared to other countries like Thailand and Russia, Mongolia is very supportive towards North Korean defectors…
Comment: Remember that Yeonmi also claimed to be forced to strip naked every day for months while in the detention center in Mongolia, which two South Korean experts rejected. She keeps adding these details to make an epic story (“forced to strip naked every day for months, then walked off the plane in South Korea still wearing her prison uniform). But if you actually just take a step back and think about what she's saying, in many instances, it's totally ridiculous.


Q17: WHERE DID YEONMI SEE PUBLIC EXECUTIONS?

5:15 (Public executions) are like big celebrations for North Koreans, because we are killing our betrayers and criminals. So they are taken to the big stadium. And we are going there to do the celebrate things. And in the big stadium or in the markets, where lots of people are coming, they are doing it (public executions).


Question: Does North Korea really execute people in public markets? I don’t doubt that North Korea executes people publicly. But I doubt they do it in the markets.




Q18: WAS YEONMI FORCED TO SELL GOODS IN THE MARKET AT AGE 6 OR 7 TO SURVIVE THE 1995-2000 FAMINE? (SHE SAID HER FAMILY WAS RELATIVELY WELL-OFF UNTIL 2002).

Inside the black market of the world's most repressive regime
She says during the devastating famines of the 1990s she was forced to barter and trade. Her parents encouraged her to do so.
Making a profit, no matter how small, was the only way to survive.
"I wanted to make money by myself so I just bribed the old charter guard ... and I brought some food from the orchard. And I sold it," she said.
"So that means, I knew I had to make money and had to make a profit."
Note: Yeonmi was born in 1993, so she was at most six or seven years old during the famine. So this six or seven year old girl was supposedly bribing guards and selling goods in the market to survive, even though her mom said in question two above:

Others couldn’t afford to eat white rice. But Yeonmi only ate white rice. Her father did his best to give his kids a better life, so…the kids didn’t know the truth about what was going on in North Korea.”


Comment: Yeonmi’s story about bribing and selling during the famine seems contrived. It fits well with her speeches about the “black market generation,” which is of course important for her and other defectors to talk about. But Yeonmi and her mom both stated that the father gave them a good life until his arrest in 2002 (years after the famine).

So the story of six or seven year old Yeonmi being forced to bribe guards and sell things in the market to survive the famine just doesn’t seem believable.

And in the next quote (below), she claims it wasn’t until about age 10 (2003), after the famine, that she first started selling things in the market.

How millennials are shaking North Korea’s regime

When she was about 10, she first dabbled in capitalism by bribing orchard guards with alcohol to give her a bucket of persimmons, which she then sold in the markets.




Q19: COULD YEONMI REALLY SMELL COOKING FROM CHINA ACROSS THE RIVER IN HYESAN?

I Am a North Korean Millennial - Yeonmi Park (July 10, 2014)

0:18 (In Hyesan) Occasionally I could even smell very like fatty oily delicious noodles cooking from China.


(After being asked by the BBC Radio host about her family’s decision to escape)
6:15 (Yeonmi) I could see the lights from China and sometimes I could smell the delicious smell of cooking from China.
So we just thought, if we go there, we can live like them, so that was the very simple reason.


Question: Look at a map of the North Korea-China border near Hyesan. A river divides the two countries, and you have to walk for a little while from the riverbank to the nearest home or restaurant in China. Could Yeonmi have honestly smelled noodles cooking from that far away?
Think about your own neighborhood, and think about how far away you have ever smelled something else cooking. Then look at the map of the China-North Korean border near Hyesan. I'd really like to know if other defectors from Hyesan could ever smell noodles (or anything) cooking from across the border in China. I know it's a minor point, but a bizarre lie if it's not possible to smell food across the border.




Q20: WAS YEONMI’S FAMILY INITIALLY RICH OR MIDDLE CLASS?

VERSION 1: THEY WERE RICH

South Korean Talk Show “Now On My Way to Meet You,” featuring North Korean defectors telling stories about their lives

Yeonmi: My mom wore fashionable clothes and imported luxurious clothes from Japan. My mom even had a Chanel bag.


! 마취도 없이 쌍꺼풀 수술을? (기사입력 2012-05-11 15:12:31)

(A Korean article quoting Yeonmi’s statement on the South Korean talk show): “When I was nine years old, I went to get plastic surgery…”



VERSION 2: THEY WERE MIDDLE CLASS

3rd North Korean Food [North Korea Today] #3

3:52 (Casey Lartigue) But you were middle class, so you probably had a better experience than most people.

3:55 (Yeonmi) That’s why I tasted the meat. Some people don’t know the taste of meat though. So I tasted the cow meat once in my lifetime. And I couldn’t even chew it. It was so hard.




Kkotjebi in Bloom [North Korea Today(feat.Casey & Yeonmi)]

6:00 (Casey Lartigue) Some people don’t know about the tough life you had…in Hyesan.

6:09 (Yeonmi) I couldn’t go to school because we couldn’t afford it. So I stayed at home and helped my mom…(we could) only eat two meals in a day…. But compared to other “kkotjebis” (child beggars) it was nothing. They were literally scraping on the streets…they are just eating everything…it’s really just heartbreaking to see them.


Comment: Yeonmi and her mom both acknowledge that the father gave their family a relatively good life until his arrest in 2002. After Yeonmi’s father went to prison, there are several different versions of what happened:

a. The mother also went to prison, so Yeonmi went to live with her aunt and the sister lived separately with an uncle.
b. Yeonmi stayed home and helped her mom.
c. The mother also went to prison, so Yeonmi and her sister lived alone and ate grass/bugs on the mountain to survive.



Q21: COULD YEONMI AFFORD TO GO TO SCHOOL IN NORTH KOREA?

Kkotjebi in Bloom [North Korea Today(feat.Casey & Yeonmi)]

6:00 (Casey Lartigue) Some people don’t know about the tough life you had…in Hyesan.

6:09 (Yeonmi) I couldn’t go to school because we couldn’t afford it. So I stayed at home and helped my mom…(we could) only eat two meals in a day



2+2 = Kill Americans [North Korea Today(feat.Casey & Yeonmi)]

Note: Yeonmi discusses what she learned in school in North Korea during the entire episode, never mentioning that she couldn’t afford school.

11:16 (Yeonmi discussing the North Korean propaganda she learned about South Korea when she was growing up) South Korean kids (cannot pay) the school tuition fee so they cannot go to school. So they were kicked out of school and went to the street to sell newspapers and clean shoes, and they couldn’t study.

11:32 But North Korean kids have a free education system so everybody was happy there because they could go to school. So I thought, “Oh my God they are so miserable…I felt so bad. So that’s why we thought we were the best country in the world.”
Question: Wouldn’t Yeonmi at least mention that she couldn’t afford to go to school? If that were really true, we would expect her to say something like “I learned the North Korean propaganda that we have a free education system and are the best in the world, but since I couldn’t afford to go to school, I discovered the propaganda about the free education system was false.” But she never said anything like that.




Q22: DID YEONMI’S FAMILY CROSS MOUNTAINS TO GET INTO CHINA?
Request: I see that way too many people are debating this issue. The crossing three mountains doesn't make sense, but let's focus on Part I. This is just for reference.


Note: In Yeonmi’s initial escape story, she crossed the border with both parents and never mentioned climbing any mountains.
In the second escape story, Yeonmi started claiming that she had to climb three mountains to reach China. However, she was living in a city on the border (Hyesan), where there are no mountains to cross in order to reach China. Journalist Mary Ann Jolley questioned Yeonmi’s claim of climbing three mountains to reach China. This is Yeonmi’s response, and my follow-up question for Yeonmi.


UPDATE: A Response from Yeonmi Park (December 2014, Yeonmi’s response to her criticism in the Diplomat article)
And there are mountains you can even see on Google Earth – maybe you call them big hills in English – outside of Hyesan that we crossed to escape.



I Am a North Korean Millennial - Yeonmi Park (July 10, 2014)


2:26 In 2004, my whole world came crashing down. My father, my hero was arrested for his illegal trading business…And because of that, I could not live in Pyongyang anymore, so I had to go back to Hyesan.


6:05 (BBC Radio host) He decided it was time for the family to escape from North Korea. (After your father was released from prison)
6:10 (Yeonmi) Yes, we all reunited in 2006 and moved back to Hyesan.


Question: After Yeonmi’s father went to prison, her family moved back to Hyesan. The city of Hyesan continues to be a major defection point because the city is right on the border of China -- with only a river (and no mountains) to cross.
Yeonmi’s sister abruptly fled across the border to China. The most common/logical route that she would’ve taken into China (as so many other defectors have) is through the city and across the river.
Yeonmi’s family wanted to find her sister, who just crossed the border into China.
So why would Yeonmi’s family go outside of Hyesan to cross the border by traveling over three mountains and a river?


Q23: WHAT IS YEONMI’S EARLIEST MEMORY?


(0:23) My earliest memory was when I was really little my mother told me not to even whisper. I was like 4 years old when she said, the birds and mice can hear you, so you should never ever express your feelings.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0288zd0 (Yeonmi’s interview with BBC Radio: October 16, 2014)
(1:50) I saw public executions since I was age 1, 2, 3, 4.


Q24: DOES CASEY LARTIGUE DESERVE PRAISE FOR NOT MENTIONING YEONMI’S (CONTRIVED) RAPE STORY, BECAUSE HE COULD HAVE GAINED FAME AND FORTUNE?
Rushing to judgment on a defector (Casey Lartigue’s response to Yeonmi’s criticism in the Diplomat.com article)

By Casey Lartigue, Jr

Park's critics have even come after me. More than a month before the world learned it, Park told me in a recorded interview about her mother being raped in China. Despite the opportunity for fame and fortune, I didn't take the opportunities to reveal her sensitive information.


Comment: What a bizarre and inappropriate comment. Yeonmi told Lartigue about the rape story (which she clearly invented anyway) and he deserves our praise because: “Despite the opportunity for fame and fortune, I didn't take the opportunities to reveal her sensitive information.”
This is simply stunning. Read more about Mr. Lartigue in the conclusion.


PART IV: CONCLUSION
I made this document because I care about truth, human rights and North Korean defectors. I want defectors to be fully supported and prosper without misleading people. After Mary Ann Jolley’s original article at the Diplomat.com, it became obvious that Yeonmi has not been honest, but I noticed that many people are still strongly supporting Yeonmi and criticizing Jolley. A professor in Australia called Leonid Petrov even tweeted that Jolley’s article was “disgusting and mean.” Are these people even reading her article?
I sympathize with North Korean defectors and I know Yeonmi is relatively young. But she’s old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. And defectors should not be above legitimate questions and criticisms if it appears they are not being honest. Journalists and media organizations were willing to frequently repeat Yeonmi's story without question, even when it clearly contradicted what she told other journalists.
So when Mary Ann Jolley pointed out obvious contradictions in Yeonmi's story, no other journalists were willing to do some investigating and write a follow-up article? Tons of articles repeated (and continue to repeat) whatever Yeonmi says, but only one critical article comes out, despite the documented contradictions that Jolley brought to our attention? Doesn't the public deserve to know what's going on?
Some people will undoubtedly still support Yeonmi despite all the evidence against her. These people should ask themselves why. Yeonmi’s high-profile fabrications are seriously harming North Korean defectors because people might not believe them after such a huge international embarrassment. The North Korea propaganda department and some North Korea supporters will probably seize upon Yeonmi’s lies to repeat their own false claims that all North Korean defectors are liars. Many defectors’ stories are surely true, but will people care to listen anymore? I hope so.
The other reason I made this document was the suspicious Yeonmi Park Foundation website. Mary Ann Jolley pointed out that the website had a PayPal donate button, but there was no mention of how the money would be used. I was concerned that honest people who want to help defectors might be sending their money into the wrong hands, so I started to look more closely at Yeonmi’s story.
What I found was absolutely stunning and outrageous, so I started gathering it on one document, which is now more than 20 pages long. I was relieved when Yeonmi responded to the Diplomat article by taking her foundation website down. Her explanation (“it was a dummy site made by a friend that accidentally went live and couldn’t really receive donations”) is obviously very dubious. Someone should double-check that claim.
It’s also quite a coincidence that Yeonmi and the people around her didn’t notice that this “dummy website” had “accidentally gone live” until after Mary Ann Jolley published her critique. We should be thanking Jolley for having the courage to publish her article and helping to ensure that donations to defectors go through reputable charities, with oversight and clear guidelines for how they will use the money.
CASEY LARTIGUE
I should also mention a few things I came across regarding Casey Lartigue Jr. Mr. Lartigue seems to be quite a character, and apparently loves the attention he receives when he’s with defectors. For example, Lartigue and a defector named Ju Chan-yang went to a conference in India. In a South Korean newspaper called the Korea Times, Lartigue writes about his experience.
Lartigue was “rapping to my revised version of Salt N Pepa’s 1990s song “Whattaman,” on the same stage that defector Ju Chan-yang told her story, when there “wasn’t a dry eye in the audience.” Quite an odd juxtaposition, to say the least.
Lartigue also serves up another rap performance on the “Casey Lartigue Show with Yeonmi Park,” a podcast focusing on Ms. Park’s experiences (however real) in North Korea, wherein Mr. Lartigue adds nothing of substantive value to the discussion. I think Mr. Lartigue wrote the name of the show backwards.
(Honest) North Korean defectors deserve to be center stage, but Lartigue wants all eyes on him. In another Korea Times article, Lartigue writes a letter to himself, praising himself for his work with defectors. (You can’t make this stuff up).
One of the many reasons he heaps praise on himself is that he supposedly rejected a “dream job” that would’ve paid him triple the amount he’s earning now, so he can stay in South Korea and work with defectors. He begins the article (written to himself), “Dearest Casey,” and writes things like:
When you say that you are engaged in NK activism because you want to do it, you mean that. It is out of joy. You have turned down other great job opportunities. When people ask why you are doing it, why do you spend so much time helping North Korean refugees, you usually answer, "Because it should be done.” I can’t believe any editor could read something like this and actually decide to print it.
FINAL COMMENTS
It’s infuriating that Casey Lartigue and Yeonmi Park have warped the North Korean human rights movement into their own little show, where lies and self-aggrandizement prevail. Yeonmi deserves the most criticism, followed by Lartigue, but there are others who also deserve blame too. Yeonmi’s mother must know what’s going on. South Korean newspapers are definitely covering the Yeonmi Park story. I also wonder how Liberty in North Korea (LINK) didn’t speak up or put an end to Yeonmi’s fabrications. Yeonmi is one of LINK’s leading fundraisers, and they actively promote her, but nobody at LINK noticed anything wrong with Yeonmi’s story?
One incorrect conclusion that some commenters have made is that Yeonmi must be innocent and coached to lie by people like Lartigue. Remember, Yeonmi started lying at least as far back as January 2013, when she claimed she never saw anyone in North Korea starving or eating grass. That was long before she started working with Lartigue. But Lartigue not only promoted Yeonmi and benefited from her while she was lying, he is now trying to mislead people despite the damning evidence gathered by Jolley.
This whole Yeonmi Park saga has been ugly and disheartening, but it’s only going to get worse if we don’t spread the truth. When the world realizes what happened, people are going to be angry. But the time to deal with this is now, before the lies grow any bigger or spread any further. I can only hope that other defectors are not unfairly harmed by Yeonmi Park’s brazen attempt to fool the world.

57 comments:

  1. This post is excellent and raises some very interesting questions.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice summary.

    However, my Korean is not that good. Dis she say, she did plastic surgery? Or did Park say, that her mother did plastic surgery? http://youtu.be/Lb08kOjjMn4?list=PL_ySBOv0PHbN2SFTNLEVjRN_Ok4a3nXAg It is from this episode starting at 4:11. And do you know who 임향 엄마 is?

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    Replies
    1. This link is better: http://youtu.be/Lb08kOjjMn4?t=4m15s .

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    2. She got "plastic surgery" done when she was 9 years old. "임향 엄마" is a lady who performed the surgery -- basically an underground surgery.

      Delete
  3. One of my friend shared a video of Miss Park, where she was telling her story. I've met a lot of people in my life and I can often say if someone is lying, that's why I searched for more information about this story and came to your blog. About the foundation website, if you do a "whois", you can see the name of the person who registered the website. Don't know who is this man, but he doesn't seem to be Korean. Maybe it can add something to your "quest about the truth": http://whois.domaintools.com/yeonmi.org

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  4. "I’m writing this message because I care about human rights and North Korean defectors."

    Or were you writing this message because you care about the NK regime, and not the defectors?

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. That is exactly what I thought. Even if all that this girl was lying, she served an important purpose and I don't give two shits about her lying or not because even if she did not suffer all these atrocities, others sure as hell did. And if her lying will help at least one defector because of awareness, I am happy that she did what she did.

      Delete
    2. But she's NOT helping!!! Because of all the bs stories she's told, a lot of people aren't going to believe the Next defector- her lying helps NO-ONE, not a Single Person did she 'help' with all of her lies...

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  5. Also, your blog has only 2 blog posts, which makes it much more suspicious.

    Go ahead and flame me, my comments arises from knowing how it feels like to be a genuine refugee, and knowing how it's like being oppressed, and finally feeling what's it like gaining freedom and the ability to express oneself.

    Being a slightly spiritual person, freedom of expression isn't only a necessity in human rights but also in human spiritual form. Without expression in the spiritual realm, the physical element will contract and cause disharmony in the flow of life force, thus causing a lot of natural imbalances.

    I guess if you want answers to your own questions, try being oppressed yourself with only one way out: fleeing your birth country.

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    1. Yeah, the book just came out in Scandinavia from this Park woman. What is this persons deal with her? I can't see why anyone should begin a throughout search about her. Her words are genuine. Her message is clear. Its quite ridiculous.

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    2. You're easily manipulated. Go do your own research if you don't like it. Don't pretend to be an authority when you're obviously just sucking the teat of someone's phony emotional manipulations. You keep complimenting yourself like you're an authority on a wide variety of matters. But your words betray an utter imbecile and an asshole. Let the truth set you free, and stop being an asshole to total strangers.

      Delete
  6. is there something to your accusations -- potentially. however, i stopped about half-way when i realised that inconsistencies over time need not imply lying. do you tell everyone everything about yourself the first time you meet them, or do you reveal layers over time, depending upon comfort? lying, however, is one potential explanation.

    formatting makes your article hard to follow, it's hard to keep track of how her version of all events changes across time i.e. did the different version of discrete events occur in the same interview or not? also some elements of your claims are trivial and weaken your claims -- whether a film was south korean or american is still within the bounds of what we might expect from someone telling a truthful story over the course of several years i.e. distant memories are woven together and notoriously unreliable.

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  7. This story does not sound true. It is an attempt to discredit Yeonmi written by a person who sounds like she works for NK. Which is not a surprise.

    There is no point to this story but to discredit Yeonmi, a very brave young woman who escaped from the hell of North Korea.

    As for Casey Lartigue, he seems to be helping many refugees who escape from North Korea. Bravo to Mr. Lartigue.

    And JooPark, you should be ashamed of your dishonest attempts to discredit Jeonmi. Your misinformation campaign will fail, and the North Korean regime will fall. You can't hide the truth with lies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh, Paul, the analysis given was thorough, and you're an easily manipulated idiot. If you can't tell a liar and a fraud when you see one, then maybe you're not the sharpest tool in the box.

      You should be ashamed of yourself for being so easily manipulated through cookie-cutter Hollywood formulaic speeches that were OBVIOUSLY not written by the girl herself. And you should be ashamed of yourself for being an ARROGANT MORON. And you should be ashamed of yourself for being a prick to strangers whose only mission is to expose an obvious fraud and allow for the real truth of North Korean human rights violations to be accessed WITHOUT FRAUD. My God you're such an unbelievable piece of crap.

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    2. You sound like a jealous catty woman.It is almost as if you are envious of this girl for some reason. Who cares if she lied? This happens to other people, and the more folks know about it, the better it is for people of NK as together we will be able to help. It is not manipulation, but a smart move - the girl is compelling.

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  8. "But the same has been proven time and time again with victims of trauma. Speaking as a grad student in clinical psychology, I can tell you that victims of trauma (especially those with PTSD, which is considered to be very common although rarely diagnosed for obvious reasons among political refugees) have trouble with consistencies in their stories because the trauma actually changes the way memory works in order to protect you from those sorts of memories. Your memories become jumbled, or you can't recall some information, and there's also some information that victims of trauma and abuse just aren't ready to tell, which can lead to inconsistencies in stories.

    Put yourself in their shoes: If you were being tortured consistently, wouldn't you change your information too in hopes that the torture would stop?

    Unless you're a victim of this sort of trauma or an actual scholar or authority of the subject of trauma I suggest you get off of your high horse and realize that there are things bigger than your documentary based knowledge."

    Sorry, I had to quote this comment from someone, but it makes a fair point. How dare you try to attack an unfortunate victim of NK's regime? While you were wasting your time trying to argue that the facts were fabricated, she is out there, trying to bring about awareness of the situation. I don't like to rage at people, but hypocrites like you makes me want to puke. Whether the information is inconsistent, it doesn't change the fact that she went through those ordeals and survived to tell the tale.

    So next time you want to attack someone, go fuck yourself.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Like your "high horse" is any higher. You already know that they have been caught lying and defrauding people and yet you're attacking the author without any moral high ground yourself.

      So, Jimpaksoon, you clearly don't know what you're even talking about (you've taken about 2 seconds to validate the emotional manipulation you're still operating by on the ASSUMPTION that it was 100% true), and yet for some reason you feel authorized to be a prick to a total stranger. You're obviously an arrogant idiot (the worst kind of human alive), but the least you can do is take your own advice:

      The next time you want to attack someone, please go fuck yourself.

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    3. The real question is, WHY is her story so obviously inconsistent? If she wanted to get rich by gaining more trust from the masses, wouldn't she had at least made her story consistent? Unless she has some kind of a mental illness, I see no reason at all for her to keep changing her story. Especially when she's already so famous, she could've realized already that people will find out sooner or later.

      So I think the theory that emotional trauma is affecting her memory isn't very far-fetched at all.

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    4. But, the more 'famous' she became, the Worse the stories about her Ordeal became... I've gone through a Significant mental/physical trauma myself, (and yes, there Are inconsistencies of memory) but what happened doesn't Completely Change- I was with my Mom, oh wait, I was with my Dad; I saw/heard this, oh wait, I Didn't hear or see Anything- I believe her life wasn't peachy keen, but come the fck on, it wasn't like she's painting it to Be either...

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  9. It only takes common sense to know all these dangers of rape death and other horrible things to people in such vulnerable positions are REAL. You spent so much time analyzing every word with or without context of yeonmi's when you should be sympathetic, possibly use your talents to help fight this injustice. Wasted talent is just trash.

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    1. Joo park,think about it and stop doing such as wasted time things. Whathever you doing against this young defector girls is ust trash...

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    2. Joo park,think about it and stop doing such as wasted time things. Whathever you doing against this young defector girls is ust trash...

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    3. You are easily manipulated and for some reason feel the need to control others. The author stated their reason for publishing this analysis -- which confirms what most of us suspected, and it's a GREAT reason for having done this. This "defector" is a liar for money and a fraud and you are a gullible idiot coming to the defense of a liar and a fraud. And you're insulting the intelligence of all of us who abhor liars and frauds by trying to dictate our investment of time and resources with your basic and retarded vision. Useless morons like you should shut the hell up and stop pretending to be anyone's authority. Let the adults do adult things uninterrupted by your mental masturbation.

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  10. Mr. Joo Fraud Park, there are some serious comments here. Why are you not responding? In the order they were submitted, of course! LOL

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  11. For me the whole problem is around the DVD history... Look, Im a rich brazilian guy... Brazil have an open market, 200 millions inhabitants, even in 2002 just rich's had have money to buy a DVD player. In an open market on the richest city of latino-america just rich's have money to spend on DVDs... This girl is telling us this tale: in a closed market, families who eat grass, frogs and dragonflies have access to DVD players and pirate médias??????? DVD midias with James Bond movies... Look... we talking about poor north korean civilians who's have no rights, to even to move, how the hell they could have DVDs?
    Look the madness : you are under a death penalty just because you have a James Bond DVD media, BUT smugglers and corruptors recieves just a 1 year penalty? Smuggling and corruption moves on your " don't move yourself" country?

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  12. I have a sad true history to tell you...

    Here on this big and marvelous, open market country, every single day, more then two full hands of poor, young, afro-americans, citizens of my country, have the life reaped by the fascist governor of São Paulo... look fools... Brazil is an open country, those shits happens every single day... Is in the news... On the goddamn Internet... And you prefers believe on fairy tales.

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    1. Please don't make my fellows patriots ashamed, i was watching dvd from my f***ing PlayStation and i was raised in a slum, so stop saying bullshit with your horrible low level English, that i am sure if you are rich your parents spent lots of money for your education but it all went to the sewers, Brazil is a free country, people choses it's own president is not a dictatorship, so don't blame the government, blame the people who are too lazy to vote or don't think throughout before voting or sell their vote for nothing in return, people like you are lazy even to learn and even more to fight for their rights! Well said 200 millions and the politicians are what? 300 thousands? What is the majority? So get out of your pc and got o fight i left the country at 18 ashamed and with no hopes for my future, i was clever enough by 13 to understand I didn't belonged there cause people are alienated by the TV and don't have not even a self reflection not even a thought of maybe doing something better, don't compare Brazil to North Korea cause you are putting even more to shame the estate of the country right now. Wake up catle...

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    2. Nigga hold back, dont criticise Lucas' basic English skills because your text is full of grammar and syntax errors too, just saying

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  13. another North Korean puppet writes a blog....NEXT STORY PLEASE.
    praying for the innocent of North Korea.

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  15. As your mindset changes your past changes as well. There is no fixed past. Only the over changing now moment is what exists.

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  16. JooPark, youre so weird wasting time and writing this kind of nonsense things. Really, you should be ashamed of your dishonest attempts to discredit young defector Park Yeon Mi. Your misinformation campaign will definitely fail, and the North Korean regime will fall soon. You can't hide the truth with lies. Notnormal Joopark

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  17. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-trafficking-defector-idUSKCN0S32OJ20151010
    'Some critics have questioned her story but Park has apologized for any discrepancies, saying that at first she had not wanted to tell her full story but she was now determined that her book would be totally accurate.'
    It's difficult to talk about trauma, especially when what happened to you will get you judged.

    There's also the fact that it's been proven, many times over, that trauma messes with your memory. Many witness's testimonies have been disproven in court, because of this phenomenon.

    Then there are things like traveling over three mountains, when you say Hyessan is right next to the river. How well do you know the terrain of the area? Isn't it possible that there were guards in the easiest spot to go through?
    Also, she could've remembered an earlier memory, later on. THere's also the fact that most of us don't know exactly when most of our memories took place, so she may not be sure what happened when. (I was 1,2,3,4 seems to mean she doesn't know which age she was)
    As for school, it's possible she could afford it at one point, but not at another.

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  18. You're a disgusting human being. Did it ever occur to you that traumatic events are not always easy to recall and she is probably trying to shut them out and is therefore not always clear and consistent with her descriptions of the events? You try dealing with some of the shit she has dealt with and at such a young age and tell me how normal and quick thinking you would be. Piece of SHIT who wrote this and the Australian cunt who doesn't believe her.

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    1. Not only that, ever occur to you that as you tell a story, those listening twist your words and change your story too? Everyone knows that. Look at how rumors get started in the workplaces for example.

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  19. Good job of analyzing and drawing conclusions based on logic. Your detractors seem to be more interested in histrionics.. You have shown respect for the human rights issues at stake, but people don't want to put their emotions aside (and suspicions about your intent) to consider what's going on here? The pay-pal account is enough, in itself, to convince me that money is behind this. Fame is probably a big motivator, as well. Sometimes, the truth hurts.

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    1. I agree!!! There's quite a bit, from what I read, that is just too inconsistent for this too be the bleeding heart story they all want it to be...

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  20. Good story about something what was needed to be said. Good job! People are so easily emotional impressible.

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  21. Thanks for the article, will post the link on Facebook! Park's speech is so similar to the testimony, given to congress, by the 15 year-old Kuwaiti girl Nayirah, in the run up to the 1991 Gulf war. Nayirah testified she witnessed Iraqi soldiers throwing babies from incubators. The story was a fabrication managed by the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton and widely publicised to justify the Iraq invasion. Given the Chinese have their missiles on high alert, equipped with nuclear heads, we should be very careful about the propaganda machine that is set in motion to demonise North-Korea and China, to justify a first strike. Park's text is obviously scripted. Where did this girl learn to speak English and what about her extended family? The video may be two years old, on 14 march 2017 it was again posted, through Viral thread on Facebook, with obvious political motives in mind. Are we heading towards a confrontation, or is it it just part of the political rhetoric?

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  25. I was trying to make a comment that wouldn't subject myself to attack. To the blog writer, I will only say that Americans generally don't want truth, they want feel good stories. It's the reason it's constantly facing increasing challenges.

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  26. She asked her mom that I am real north Korean right? She is very smart and terrible woman to achieve famous

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  27. WOW...the connections are to left wing and socialist websites that want to discredit the victim's of this violence and oppression, and if she is a victim she could be suffering PTSD, Especially at her father still stuck in China after she convinced her captor to be his mistress if he brought father to China.

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  28. I realized the inconsistency in the testimonies she had. Glad to know I was not the only one who realized this.

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  29. She is not lieing. To say a lie means taking the side of the north koreans. Who said she was married eny how. More bull just to damage some one who has go through hell just live to and all those who are still under that evil dictator. Who can't care about the people in the country . Makes pol pot look normal in comparison.

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  30. She is not lieing. To say a lie means taking the side of the north koreans. Who said she was married eny how. More bull just to damage some one who has go through hell just live to and all those who are still under that evil dictator. Who can't care about the people in the country . Makes pol pot look normal in comparison.

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  31. As others have already mentioned there were several reasons why some of what she said was not truthful.... she admitted that. One reason was a language barrier. Another was embarrassment that no one would want to marry her due to shame of being sold as a slave and no longer a virgin which is embedded in their minds in Korea. She admitted that there were discrepancies and apologized and promised to correct these. She told it different ways, but there is one consistency here... this place is horrible, her and her family (as well as many others) are mistreated there, she witnessed her friend's mother being killed for watching a movie (who gives a crap whether it was American movie or Korean. Maybe it was an American James Bond that had been changed to Korean language!), she was sold into slavery, and escaped. Beyond that GEEZ people who cares about the inconsistencies. Also, I am sure her family and many others from Korea were made to speak against her! It's so we believe that she is a liar and won't buy her truth. I wish her all the best!

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    1. I agree that which DVD is besides the point. I'm more interested in whether she actually witnessed an execution, who it was, and what it was for. I agree with the blogger that there appears to be an intentional skirting of specific issues in the stories in the response to "The Strange Tale of Yeonmi Park", written by one of the journalists involved in the SBS Celebrity Defector episode. No doubt North Korea is messed up, but considering she now says her book is based on the memories of her mother and sister, I'm wondering if the mother has actually come out and verified the newest version of the stories, like rape, trafficking, strip searches, etc. The blog above doesn't even cover the full gamut of the range of things this young lady has said.

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  32. comments all made by north korean agents. are you for one minute, suggesting that north korea is a good place to be? im with her. look at kim jong un and his father. how fucking weird are they? what a despicable regime. time to stamp these fuckpigs out.

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  33. I don't know what the hell to think. Now she's saying her mom and sister's memories are the basis for the book. Has the mother ever come out and verified the later versions of her "life"? How does she get trafficked on the way from N. Korea to China and her mother get raped if the father is with them? Fact is, she went from S. Korean defector game show to SBS Dateline to international recognition in speeches to the SBS journalist writing that "The Strange Tale of Yeonmi Park" and then to book deal, Columbia University, and more fame. It's like the scrutiny just shut off the moment trafficking and rape was suddenly thrown in the mix. I'm sure she's probably doing a lot of good bringing attention to North Korea's problems, but you have to admit it's all hard to believe now.

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