North Korea Past & Present: Discussion with Yeonmi Park & Jihyun Park

The European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea will be hosting an open meeting on Wednesday 29th October, 5:00-7:00 pm in Committee Room 3A, the Houses of Parliament.

Press Release: Following the great famine of the mid-1990s, North Korea underwent profound and irreversible change. A surge in blackmarket activity – markets which were first established in the early 1980s – following the famine led to the increased fragmentation of a hitherto extremely centralised and oppressive politics. What does that mean for the lives of ordinary North Koreans? The European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea is delighted to invite you to a discussion featuring Yeonmi Park and Jihyun Park at the Houses of Parliament in London on the 29th of October, where they will discuss how the black market has changed their country and what their lives were like in North Korea.

Yeonmi Park
Yeonmi Park

Yeonmi Park is part of the millennial generation of North Koreans. Born in Hyesan City in 1993, Yeonmi grew up in Pyongyang, experiencing a relatively comfortable lifestyle by comparison to most North Koreans. Her father was imprisoned for selling goods to China, forcing the family to leave Pyongyang. After his release, Yeonmi’s family decided to leave North Korea in 2007. Since arriving in South Korea in 2009, Yeonmi has become prominent as an outspoken human rights activist. She currently co-hosts “North Korea Today” on OTV.

 

Jihyun Park
Jihyun Park

Jihyun Park is EAHRNK’s North Korean Outreach and Project Coordinator. She was born in Chongjin City in the 1960s. After growing up in a fairly middle class family where her mother operated a business in the very earliest black markets, Jihyun entered university. Graduating with a degree in math and science, she went on to become a high school teacher. During the famine, she fled North Korea for China. Jihyun was eventually arrested, repatriated, and sentenced to a period in a labour camp. After being released, she fled North Korea again. After a number of years in China, she came to the UK with her family in 2008.

Although both Jihyun and Yeonmi experienced life in North Korea in an era where the state’s economic control has been eroding, the structure and size of the black market activity and the ability of the state to enforce totalitarian control has greatly shifted in the years following the famine. Their differing experiences pre- and post-famine will ensure the audience understand the nuance of the changes in North Korean society over the past two decades.

Attendance is free and open to the public. Attendees do not have to register, but seating is limited so we recommend arriving at least 45 minutes early. The Houses of Parliament can be accessed via the Cromwell Green visitor entrance.

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