Yeonmi Park, survivor and escapee of Kim Jong-un’s regime in North Korea and human rights activist, has warned America that it is repeating the same mistakes that led to the rise of totalitarianism in her home country.
Ms Park, author of In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom, recently told her harrowing yet inspiring life story to Dr Jordan Peterson on his podcast. She described her experiences of growing up in Kim Jong-un’s regime, where she almost starved to death, being smuggled into China where she was sold into sex slavery, escaping slavery in order to receive an education in South Korea, being introduced to literature and becoming inspired to speak out against the atrocities of Kim’s regime after reading Animal Farm by George Orwell, before finally moving to America in 2014 and going on to receive an education at Yale University. Ms Park told Peterson that her father, who was imprisoned in a concentration camp, had always dreamed of her receiving an Ivy League quality education.
Peterson asked Ms Park what her experience at Yale was like. Her response? “It was a complete waste of time and money.” She explained how every class she took was inundated with identity politics and Critical Race Theory, which she viewed as virtually identical to the communist propaganda of class warfare that she had been taught in North Korea and had led to the demise of her country. She described being chastised by professors for getting peoples’ pronouns wrong, and for allowing men to hold doors open for her because it perpetuated gender stereotypes. She told Peterson, “I learned to censor myself all over again.”
Although he is no stranger to conflict in the university over identity politics, Peterson pressed her on this. Was there really nothing of any value in her education at Yale? Ms Park replied that she had found a course on human evolution somewhat interesting, but that by the end of it even that was bogged down with Critical Theory.
Ms Park expressed her dismay that her professors at Yale were teaching precisely what had transformed North Korea into the nightmare it is today – the narrative that humanity can be divided into distinct groups of “oppressed” and “oppressors”, and that if your ancestors somehow oppressed others then you continue, in some unknown way, to benefit from systemic oppression. Hence white males are demonized in many American universities and even schools.
The difference between American Marxism and North Korean Marxism, as Ms Park pointed out, is that America is embracing this worldview voluntarily. It is choosing to tear itself apart.
After her interview with Peterson, Ms Park appeared on Hannity on Fox News where she repeated her warnings:
North Korea started as a communist country. It began as – “you know, let’s make it the most equal society in the world.” Now, the regime’s different classes [are] based on your status, based on what your great-great-grandfather did.
And when I went to Columbia, that’s when I was shocked. They say, because your ancestors owned the slaves, that you must be guilty. You authorize[d] this because you were white… And this is injustice because you can never choose your ancestors. You don’t choose your race. And people in North Korea being punished for, you know, certain class, and in this America, the same thing is happening right now.
Surely, when someone who has escaped the most nightmarish totalitarian country on the planet warns America that it is heading down the same path that led to that nightmare becoming a reality, the West ought to pay attention.
Like Solzhenitsyn before her, Yeonmi Park is a voice crying out in the wilderness, whom we ignore at our own risk. Socialism is alive and well in America today in its reincarnation as Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, and identity politics in general and, as always, poses a serious threat to the freedom we enjoy and take for granted in the West.
Peterson wrote in his foreword to The Gulag Archipelago:
Thus the doctrine of group identity inevitably ends with everyone identified as a class enemy, an oppressor; with everyone uncleansibly contaminated by bourgeois privilege, unfairly enjoying the benefits bequeathed by the vagaries of history; with everyone prosecuted, without respite, for that corruption and injustice… Expiation becomes impossible because there is no manner in which the crime of arbitrary birth can be individually accounted for.
This describes how North Korea became the hell it is today, and what is currently being taught in American universities. Ms Park has experienced it in both ways and is warning us to change course before it’s too late.
We forget that liberty and a relatively peaceful society are not the default mode of our existence, they must be fought for and defended against perverse ideas and those who would seek to enact them.
President Biden recently declared white supremacy to be the greatest threat to national security in America today. This despite the looming threat of conflict with China over Taiwan and the damage wrought by Black Lives Matter supporters for much of 2020. Like the indoctrination Ms Park experienced at Yale, Biden’s rhetoric is designed to justify the increasing insistence on classifying people according to racial groups, assigning them a place on the oppression spectrum in order to give more power to the state, and to silence potential dissenters. It’s American Marxism.
It’s sad that Ms Park, an activist for the rights of North Koreans, has had to raise awareness in the West about what is taking place in American universities, and we would be foolish to think that what’s happening in North Korea, or some other more uniquely Western version of totalitarianism, could never happen in the West.
If it can happen, then it can happen anywhere.