Yeonmi Park, 2014. Photo by Casey Lartigue, Creative Commons license 4.0.

Looks like the Right has found a new media star, 27-year-old Yeonmi Park, who as a child escaped North Korea with her mother, made her way through China and the Gobi Desert, and in 2015 published a memoir, In Order to Live. In addition to her work as a human rights activist, she's now branching out with a bunch of appearances in rightwing media, such as an interview with Fox News published yesterday and a guest spot on Jordan Peterson's lobster-cooking podcast. She just wants to warn us all that the "woke" climate at American universities is pretty much indistinguishable from the Stalinist indoctrination you'd find in North Korea. Yes, really. She has a bright career ahead of her, we're certain.

She bases this judgment on her experience pursuing a humanities degree at Columbia University in Manhattan, starting in 2016, and while neither the Fox story nor a companion story in Rupert Murdoch's New York Post specifically says she has an upcoming book to flog, we bet one's on the way. Because after all, who better to document the astonishing similarities between North Korea and an Ivy League liberal arts program than someone who has survived both?


Park told Fox News that she worries the future of the USA "is as bleak as North Korea," based on what she saw at the elite private university.

"I expected that I was paying this fortune, all this time and energy, to learn how to think. But they are forcing you to think the way they want you to think," Park said in an interview with Fox News. "I realized, wow, this is insane. I thought America was different but I saw so many similarities to what I saw in North Korea that I started worrying."

Those similarities include anti-Western sentiment, collective guilt and suffocating political correctness.

As an example of the inescapable ideological brainwashing at Columbia, Park noted that in every single one of her classes, professors asked students which pronouns they preferred. Now, a fool might think that was pretty accommodating of the profs, but it is actually very cruel indoctrination into the horrifying acceptance of other people even if you don't think there's any such thing as gender identity.

"English is my third language. I learned it as an adult. I sometimes still say 'he' or 'she' by mistake and now they are going to ask me to call them 'they'? How the heck do I incorporate that into my sentences?"

"It was chaos," said Yeonmi. "It felt like the regression in civilization."

"Even North Korea is not this nuts," she admitted. "North Korea was pretty crazy, but not this crazy."

We might also point out that, in North Korea, being gay or transgender is deeply taboo (though not technically illegal) and subject to punishment as being "against the socialist lifestyle." Some might even say there's more freedom here, but those people are just blind to the violence in the US academic system, which does its own form of forcing a socialist lifestyle on people by treating LGBTQ people as worthy of respect.

As another example of how America is becoming just like North Korea, Park expressed astonishment that when she said she liked the novels of Jane Austen and other dead white people, she was scolded for her crime.

"I said 'I love those books.' I thought it was a good thing," recalled Park.

"Then she said, 'Did you know those writers had a colonial mindset? They were racists and bigots and are subconsciously brainwashing you.'"

How true this is! No American scholar dares mention the curséd name of Jane Austen these days. Like, outside all the academic conferences and publications about Jane Austen. And in North Korea, if you speak ill of the Kim family, you and your entire family can be sent to a work camp where you die, so the similarities really are something.

Park also told the New York Post that in one class at Columbia,

a teacher discussing Western Civilization asked students if they had a problem with the name of the topic – most students raised their hands, according to Park. Some, she said, mentioned issues with the "colonial" slant of the discussion.

She also said that professors gave students "trigger warnings" so they wouldn't have to read anything that might bother them, and that "Going to Columbia, the first thing I learned was 'safe space.'" We can only reflect that this is disturbingly like that time Kim Jong Un ordered disfavored officials executed with an anti-aircraft gun, which also had a trigger.

Park didn't elaborate on what North Korean schools do to coddle students who would rather not attend classes they find objectionable. Probably give them a medal for doing communism right.

Park even noted that the constant demonization of white men and white privilege reminded her of how North Korean schools would use the figure of "American Bastards" in math problems that would ask "'There are four American bastards, you kill two of them, how many American bastards are left to kill?"

She told the Post, "I thought North Koreans were the only people who hated Americans, but turns out there are a lot of people hating this country in this country."

We really do have to credit Park, who has long been sponsored by libertarian groups, for knowing exactly what will resonate with a Murdoch audience. She told the Post that, as an escapee from a repressive regime, she's very worried when she sees Americans who are so willing to give up their liberties to Big Government!

"Voluntarily, these people are censoring each other, silencing each other, no force behind it," she said.

"Other times (in history) there's a military coup d'etat, like a force comes in taking your rights away and silencing you. But this country is choosing to be silenced, choosing to give their rights away."

Perhaps recognizing the limits of the American education Is North Korea analogy, Park didn't have anything at all to say in either interview about Republican efforts to ban "critical race theory" from public schools, although if she keeps touring wingnut media, she may eventually end up explaining that preventing teachers from openly discussing America's history of racial oppression is the only way to save students from being indoctrinated.

Also, we would note that before her 2015 memoir was published, some critics and even other North Korean refugees said they suspected that "she embellished the story of her escape with elements lifted from other defector accounts." At the very least, there seem to be doubts about the veracity of her story, as discussed here. That article also includes a reply from Park, explaining that inconsistencies between various versions of her story in different publications were due to a "language barrier" and "mistranslations."

We'd like to wish Ms. Park success in her new career as a professional culture warrior, although if she does have a book coming about her Columbia experience, we're fairly sure we've already read it in one of its earlier incarnations from the 1980s.

[Fox News / NYP / The Diplomat / Photo by Casey Lartigue, Creative Commons License 4.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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