North Korean defector and human rights activist Yeonmi Park slammed U.S. Olympian Gwen Berry this week for turning her back on the American flag during the National Anthem while standing on the podium, saying the “privileged” athlete “would be executed” if she did the same thing in North Korea.
“If she did the exact same thing at this very moment, if she was North Korean, not only herself will be executed, [also] eight generations of her family can be sent to political prison camp and execution,” Park told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade during an appearance on “Fox and Friends” Thursday.
Park, who fled North Korea and was formerly enslaved in China, said Berry’s actions were “unthinkable,” noting that the United States is the “most tolerant country”
“I was a slave. I was sold in China in 2007 as a child at 13 years old. The people actually go in slavery under Chinese Communist Party in North Korea. There is actual injustice,” Park said. “And the fact that she’s complaining about this country, the most tolerant country, she doesn’t really understand history.”
After facing backlash for her actions at the Olympic trials in Oregon where she earned the bronze medal in hammer throw, Berry, a self-proclaimed “activist athlete,” said the National Anthem doesn’t represent her.
During an interview with Black News Channel, Berry claimed she didn’t hate the U.S., but rather had an issue with the Star Spangled Banner itself.
“I never said that I hated the country — never said that. All I said was that I respect my people enough to not stand or acknowledge something that disrespects them. I love my people, point blank, period,” Berry told the outlet.
“If you know your history, you know the full song of the national anthem, the third paragraph speaks to slaves in America, our blood being slain… all over the floor,” she continued. “It’s disrespectful and it does not speak for Black Americans. It’s obvious. There’s no question.”
The lyrics Berry was referring to are: “And where is that band who so vauntingly swore, That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion. A home and a Country should leave us no more? Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave. From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave. O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Park scoffed at Berry’s assertions, noting the stark differences between so-called oppression in America and oppression in North Korea. According to Park, Berry is “spoiled” with freedom.
“In North Korea, people who are actually oppressed don’t even know they’re oppressed. The fact that she’s complaining about oppression and systemic racism – she does not understand that she’s so privileged.”
“There are people dying to come to America at this very moment,” Park said. “I just hope they go to North Korea, China and see how humans are being oppressed. And they will truly understand how valuable the freedom that we have is.”