March 17, 2024

Talk: 'Standing Up to Tyranny' with Yeonmi Park

The Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter at Michigan Tech hosted Yeonmi Park on March 14.

Park is a human rights activist and TED speaker born in North Korea. She grew up in a society led by former Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il. At the age of 13, she and her family defected to China in search of a life free of tyranny. In her viral virtual talks, viewed online nearly 350 million times, she urges audiences to recognize and resist oppression around the world.

Park's memoir, "In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom," recounts the story of her defection and experiences with detention camps, political executions and human trafficking. Her speech on these topics has been viewed more than 320 million times.

Park is rapidly gaining recognition as a voice for oppressed people all over the world. Her speeches are known for their candor and personal touch and have garnered international attention. She made a lasting impression at the Oslo Freedom Forum and the One Young World Summit in Dublin, Ireland, where she delivered powerful speeches about the North Korean regime.

BBC News highlighted Park's story in its 2014 "100 Women" annual series. Her most recent book, "While Time Remains: A North Korean Defector's Search for Freedom in America," was published in February 2023.

This event was free and open to the public. It was hosted by YAF’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise as part of the Preserving American Liberty & Freedom Lecture Series. The event was co-sponsored by Huskies for America, and it had a great turnout of students and locals, including a few who had traveled from Wisconsin (310+ people in total). The talk evoked a range of emotions, from laughter to silence and tears. The YAF students did an excellent job collecting donations, raising over $1,400 from the generous attendees. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the success of this event.

Examples of the comments from people attending this event included:

"Hearing Yeonmi’s story is life changing. I’m so grateful for the opportunity for my children and I to have been able to attend."

"What a successful event! Thank you for sponsoring this! I wish I could thank her again! My daughter said that listening to her and meeting her was the most amazing thing that has ever happened in her life!"

"I can’t believe what Ms. Park had to go through at my daughter’s age. It’s overwhelming to think about."

"Yeonmi was absolutely enthralling! I’ve seen some of her heartfelt talks on videos but seeing her in person was immeasurably powerful! I’m so glad there were so many attendees."

"Thank you for all that you do. Your efforts and the young students involved are impacting our country in a great way. It is exciting, inspiring, and motivating!"

In addition to the 310+ attendees, over 4,000 people watched the event via live-streaming. The recording of the event is available on YouTube.

Protecting Our Freedom with Anthony Watson
Standing Up to Tyranny with Yeonmi Park
Map of the Upper Peninsula with the location of Houghton highlighted