Eunhee Park

Keynote Speaker

Eunhee Park joined Freedom Speakers International in 2015. She originally focused solely on English, studying in FSI’s English Empowerment program starting in 2015. In 2016, she began dabbling in public speaking. In early 2016, at an event hosted by the American Women’s Club in Seoul with Freedom Speakers International, Eunhee gave her first public speech. She hid her identity at the time, but she had taken her first step out of anonymity. In August 2016, she competed in FSI’s English Speech Contest.

In 2018, she was a featured speaker at the Asia Liberty Forum (February in Indonesia) and gave a TEDx Talk in December 2018 about the lives of North Korean women. In February 2019, she won FSI’s 9th English Speech Contest. She has given speeches and been featured in numerous media outlets. In September of 2020, she was highlighted as a featured speaker at the 2020 Oslo Freedom Forum. In December 2021, she was highlighted in a video by the United Nations on International Human Rights Day.

She was born in Wonsan on the east coast of North Korea. She escaped from the North at the age of 21 to pursue fundamental freedom. Eunhee says that her motivation for escaping should not be overlooked in discussions about why North Koreans have fled the country.

“Many consider starvation as the main reason to escape North Korea and think that fashion is a superficial motivation. However, it goes deeper than that.

“How can you improve your life if you have no choice of what you want to do or lack the freedom to express yourself? The right to wear clothes of my choice, to wear long hair, traveling and moving about as I wish all allow me to express myself as a human. Stopping my right to live my life as I wish is an injustice that I want to fight against.

“Therefore, I decided to leave North Korea, where I could never be myself because of the dictatorship. At the age of 17, after four years of preparation, I escaped to South Korea.

“It felt like a completely different world when I came to a free country. The people spoke different languages, especially English. Therefore, I couldn’t get a job easily. In order to survive, I started learning English in Freedom Speakers International in 2015, meeting lots of beautiful people who gave me the courage to stand up, share my anecdotes and other people’s stories, and spread awareness of human rights issues. I have been through many difficulties in the South, but I have never given up on my goals.”

“The word impossible has no meaning to me. Possible is the word that has motivated me since I escaped. There is a saying: ‘Becoming a victim is not a choice, becoming a survivor is.’”

“I am so thankful to Freedom Speakers International. When I first joined it, I hid my face and I used a fake name. Now I have my name and I can speak out to the world.”