North Korean defector speech reaches 70 million views: 'My mother let herself be raped to protect me'

'There is a saying in North Korea: Women are weak, but mothers are strong,' says Yeomni Park

Harriet Agerholm@HarrietAgerholm
Thursday 16 March 2017 21:10
Young woman who escaped from North Korea tells of execution and her mother's rape

The heart-wrenching story of a North Korean defector has achieved almost 75 million views after it went viral online.

In the video, Yeomni Park – a human rights activist who fled the isolationist state when she was 13 years old – tells of the horror of watching her friend's mother be executed for watching a Hollywood film.

She also describes how she was made to watch her own mother be raped during her escape.

“The day I escaped North Korea, I saw my mother raped," she said. "The rapist was a Chinese broker. He targeted me, I was 13 years old.

"There is a saying in North Korea: ‘Women are weak, but mothers are strong’. My mother allowed herself to be raped in order to protect me.”

The renewed interest in the footage, taken from the One Young World conference in 2014, comes in the aftermath of the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jon-un's estranged half-brother.

The death of Kim Jong-nam has raised more questions about the iron grip the country's leadership has over its citizens.

During her speech, Ms Park said: "North Korea is indescribable. No humans deserve to be oppressed just because of their birth place.

"We need to focus less on the regime, and more on the people who are being forgotten."

Ms Park has also criticised Westerners for laughing at Kim Jong-un instead of treating him like a "murderer".

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