Yeonmi Park Details Horrific Effects of North Korean Starvation

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Yeonmi Park

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Yeonmi Park is a North Korean Human Rights Activist, and author of “In Order To Live: a North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom.”

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When you were talking about going to the doctor when you were a child and that, this is a very disturbing story, but I want you to try to explain it to people how people were dying in these hospitals and rats would eat the eyeballs of the people who were dying and children who were starving would eat the rats and then the children would die and the rats would eat the children. Explain what this was like. How did you see this? Well, I mean, seeing dead bodies on the streets, like everyday thing, it was not... Where were the bodies? Like just laying around on the streets? Also, they are floating in the rivers and then they also train station somehow had a lot of dead bodies because North Korea is very cold and there's a train waiting area and North Korea has one train go to one distance, like once a month. Here it would take like one hour to go to the other place, in North it would take a month at least to go because there's no electricity and sometimes people have to push the train. They have to push the train. Yeah. Traveling in North Korea is an unbelievably difficult thing within North Korea. So I mean, anyway, so in train stations, that's when people die mostly. In North Korea, the hardest thing as a child for me is that when my mom goes away to find food, we don't have phones, we don't have letters. If I say goodbye to her, I don't know when I'm going to see her again or if I'm ever going to see her again because she could have cared and like raped and starved. You just never know how to find people. So in the morning when you go like walking the train station, they just put the piles of dead bodies and they're all like become rigid, right? They're almost like the root, piled on them and taking away. But the thing is, for me, I didn't even know the word compassion. Like nobody told me you have to feel bad for it because for me, like fish in the water don't notice the water, right? Like that. It was like something every day I saw as a child. So you never went days where you didn't see, this is a normal thing to see dead bodies. It was every day as normal as like breathing the air right now. And one thing that I still remember is my sister and I was walking by the water. Like in North school, we don't have a sewage. We don't have running water, obviously. We have to go to the water or river to bring the drinking water. And there's a young teenage boy, I think, lying down and his intestines coming out of his back. When you're really mannished, that thing all opens up. You got zero, zero fats. Every hole all opens. And you see dogs looking at his organs coming out. And he was still somehow conscious begging for food at the time. He was begging for food while his organs were hanging out of his body. Yeah. And I don't know why he was like pants were off. And I feel nothing. That still haunts me to say like, I don't know. How I feel nothing at that point. And that just looked horrible. And because of the fact that he's alive and so much flies flying by on his organs and how he's somehow consciously begging for food. And I didn't feel anything. You felt no compassion. No. It was just normal. Yeah. Yeah. So that's that was like daily life thing. And then in the hospital when I was 13 years old, my parents took me to hospital because I was a bad stomachache. And then we don't have like x-ray machines. We don't have any of that. Just doctor who ups her belly. And then he says, oh, we need to operate on her. I think her like appendix or bursting or something. So that afternoon they they caught me open without any anesthesia. And by normal thing, people in North Creek operation without anesthesia. So the chances of you going to surgery is a lot higher for you getting infected because we don't have penicillin. The nurse is using a one meter to inject every single patient. So who do you know what the other person has? You get from actually more sick by being in the hospital. And this is where we don't of course have an indoor bathroom for the patient. We have to go outside. And in between there, there's a part of the human bodies. That's when I was seeing this somehow rats eating human eyes first for some reason. Because they're probably soft. And these women, I don't know, in my age probably, show hair wearing these flower pens. And when they did all like their mouth is somehow open and their eyes are hollow. And you see children like looking at the rats and laughing and chasing them. And the adults telling them don't eat those, you're going to get sick from it. But of course kids don't care. Even finding a rat is delicacy. Because even finding a snake is a big prize. You don't find those often. So they were finding the rats and then just trying to eat them? Yeah. Were they eating them raw? Sometimes if you find the skin you do, but they do find some like fire and roast them. So they were excited to find a rat to eat. Yeah. So they were catching them with their hands. Oh yeah, of course they do catch them with their hands. And these parts of human body, she was on top. That's why I was able to see her wearing these flower pens. And then her eyes are so hollow. It's like when you look at the human body, nothing is left. I think that's what... It's not just death, it's just how it becomes nothing. So empty inside. She does not know the shame or pain. She was lying there like that. And you see children just chasing them and laughing and try to catch the rats. And the children didn't feel anything being around the dead bodies. Just normal. It's our daily normal thing. Seeing death is like our daily life. And they would eat the rats and then they would get sick and some of them would die. Yeah. A lot of them die. And then the rats would eat them. Yeah. It's the cycle we talk about. That's a spring is for North Asian citizens of death. And so the diseases that they would get from the rats, they were willing to risk those diseases just because of hunger. Because when you ask, there's a North Korean proverb. There's no wish for the person who died after their stomach is full. So even in the middle of the earthquake, the North Koreans not tried to run. So my mom was talking about the tear when she was in the university. There's an earthquake happening. And do you know what this student's doing? He's not running out of the building and tried to survive. They go to the kitchen. So before they die, they eat at least so they can die. So if you have the promise of eating a one meal, they're going to risk everything for that. So it's just an entire country in a perpetual state of starvation. Yeah. It's I remember playing with this game with my sister as a young girl. I never ate till I felt full. So I would compare myself like I tell her like I can eat 100 bread and she said I can eat the mountains of bread. I can eat like 10,000 more than what you just said because I don't know the limits of my stomach. I never tested it. So you always were hungry. Always hungry. Never felt full. Catch new episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience for free only on Spotify. Watch back catalog JRE videos on Spotify, including clips, easily, seamlessly switch between video and audio experience. On Spotify, you can listen to the JRE in the background while using other apps and can download episodes to save on data costs all for free. Spotify is absolutely free. You don't have to have a premium account to watch new JRE episodes. You just need to search for the JRE on your Spotify app. Go to Spotify now to get this full episode of the Joe Rogan Experience.