A North Korean defector said she viewed the US as country of free thought and free speech – until she went to college here.
Yeonmi Park attended Columbia University and was immediately struck by what she viewed anti-Western sentiment in the classroom and a focus on political correctness that had her thinking “even North Korea isn’t this nuts.” Park told Fox News “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,” she said. “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.”
Her professors gave students “trigger warnings,” sharing the wording from readings in advance so people could opt out of reading or even sitting in class during discussions, Park told The Post. “Going to Columbia, the first thing I learned was ‘safe space,’” she said. “Every problem, they explained us, is because of white men.” Some of the discussions of white privilege reminded her of the caste system in her native country, where people were categorized based on their ancestors, she said.
In one class, 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. And classes often began with professors asking students for their preferred pronouns, with the use of “they” becoming scary as she feared being socially penalized for not being inclusive enough in her vocabulary. “English is my third language,” she said. “It’s very hard for me to say he and she sometimes, I misuse them.”
She told Fox that she also was chided for saying she enjoyed the writings of Jane Austen. “I said ‘I love those books.’ I thought it was a good thing,” Park told the network. “Then she said, ‘Did you know those writers had a colonial mindset? They were racists and bigots and are subconsciously brainwashing you.’” Park said North Korea students were constantly informed about the ‘American Bastard.’ “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,” she told The Post.
Park fled with her mother from the North Korean regime in 2007, when she was 13 years old. “I crossed the Gobi Desert to be free and I realized I’m not free, America’s not free,” she said. Further critiquing, she said, “In North Korea, I 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.” She went on to say “That is what is happening in America. People see things but they’ve just completely lost the ability to think critically.”
ARTICLE : PATEL CHAITANYA
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: FOX NEWS
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