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Video: North Korean defector says ‘even North Korea isn’t as nuts’ as US Ivy League school

Yeonmi Park, May 2014. (Photo by Caseylartigue, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
June 15, 2021

Yeonmi Park, a 27-year-old North Korean defector, recalled this week the questionable education she received at Columbia University, after seeing similarities between the Ivy League school and the country she fled, such as strong anti-Western sentiments and notions of collective guilt and political correctness.  

Park further detailed her university experience in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday night. Park said one of the first things she learned as a child growing up in North Korea was to hold disdain for America. Park said she grew to love America but was shocked at some of the anti-American sentiments she encountered at the American university.

Park said, “Even North Korea is not this nuts. North Korea was pretty crazy, but not this crazy.”

“At Columbia University, literally every professor was saying the problems that we have in today’s world is because of white men, how they colonized Africa and Asia, and that’s how they messed up everything and they are the one who needs to be blamed,” Park said. “I couldn’t believe it. Am I sitting in North Korea’s classroom or in America? I couldn’t believe why people were hating their own people that much.”

Park escaped North Korea at the age of 13, had been sold into sex slavery for a time after crossing the border into China, and escaped again by crossing through the Gobi Desert. She went on to attend a South Korean university before transferring to Columbia University in 2016.

In a separate interview with Fox News on Monday, Park detailed another of her first experiences at Columbia when she was scolded during orientation for admitting she enjoyed the works of classic English literature such as Jane Austen. 

“I said ‘I love those books.’ I thought it was a good thing,” Park said.

Then she recalled one of the people running the orientation criticized Austen’s works. “She said, ‘Did you know those writers had a colonial mindset? They were racists and bigots and are subconsciously brainwashing you.’”

After continuing to get into arguments with professors and other students Park said she eventually “learned how to just shut up” so she could maintain good grades and graduate.

“The people here are just dying to give their rights and power to the government. That is what scares me the most,” Park said.

Park said she is concerned about the direction of the American higher education system as a whole and warned it is stifling critical thinking.

“In North Korea I literally believed that my Dear Leader [Kim Jong-un] was starving,” she said. “He’s the fattest guy – how can anyone believe that? And then somebody showed me a photo and said ‘Look at him, he’s the fattest guy. Other people are all thin.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God, why did I not notice that he was fat?’ Because I never learned how to think critically.”

“That is what is happening in America,” Park added. “People see things but they’ve just completely lost the ability to think critically.”

Park also told Fox News she was surprised by the emphasis students at Columbia University would place on victimhood and oppression.

“Because I have seen oppression, I know what it looks like. These kids keep saying how they’re oppressed, how much injustice they’ve experienced. They don’t know how hard it is to be free,” she said. “I literally crossed through the middle of the Gobi Desert to be free. But what I did was nothing, so many people fought harder than me and didn’t make it.”