Cherie Yang

Keynote Speaker

When Cherie Yang joined Freedom Speakers International in January 2015 as a student and public speaker, almost immediately she was selected to go on a speaking tour across the USA. In 2017, she was the winner of FSI’s 5th English speech contest and later that year gave a TEDx Talk in London. She was the first North Korean refugee to serve on FSI’s Board of Directors.

When she was 16 years old, she was selected to join the Pleasure Squad for the Kim dictator. Being selected as a candidate for the Pleasure Squad meant her life would be easier than many others. She didn’t have to farm, which was expected of most North Koreans. Another advantage was that she would be able to work in the exclusive government villa as she was going through the Pleasure Squad selection process. Eventually, she signed a security document with the government, which allowed her to go to Pyongyang.

While she was working in the government villa, she began to learn about the reality of North Korea. One, she realized the dictator and his regime were lying to the people about many things.

Two, she felt like she was in a prison inside a prison. She had started to learn that North Korea was not the heaven that the people had been told. The country was one prison. The government villa was another prison as she was cut off from her family while working there.

Three, she decided to escape from the villa. As a result, she was chased by 400 soldiers.

Just like that, she changed from someone on the path to an easy life in North Korea to someone who had become a traitor and a fugitive. Intelligence officers looked for her everywhere, contacting friends, relatives, and even people that she barely knew. She felt so betrayed, and North Korea had become hopeless for her.

That was the moment she realized that she had to escape from North Korea. She had been on the path to an easy life, but her new path led her out of North Korea.