A woman who fled North Korea when she was a teenager and is now attending the prestigious Columbia University in New York says she sees a lot of similarities between the totalitarian regime she grew up in and the education she’s now receiving in the Ivy League university.
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Yeonmi Park and her mum fled North Korea to China over the frozen Yalu River in 2007, when she was just 13, and the two were sold into slavery by human traffickers.
They were eventually able to flee to Mongolia with the help of Christian missionaries and trekked across the Gobi Desert to find refuge in South Korea, where Park, now 27, enrolled in university before transferring to Columbia in 2016.
She told The New York Post:
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.
Park said that her professors would give them ‘trigger warnings’ and allow them to opt out of readings and discussions.
Going to Columbia, the first thing I learned was ‘safe space’.
During her orientation, a professor asked students which of them liked classical books, like Jane Austen.
I said, ‘I love those books’. I thought it was a good thing.
Then she said, ‘Did you know those writers had a colonial mindset? They were racists and bigots and are subconsciously brainwashing you.’
From there, she said, her classes were filled with ‘anti-American sentiment, reminding her of her childhood in North Korea, where students were constantly taught about the ‘American bastard,’ which was the only way they were allowed to refer to Americans.
The math problems would say: ‘There are four American bastards, you kill two of them, how many American bastards are left to kill?”
7-year-olds in North Korea would have to respond with ‘two American bastards’ to that question.
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.
Eventually, she said she ‘learned how to just shut up’ so she could get good grades and graduate, but, she said…
Even North Korea is not this nuts.
North Korea was pretty crazy, but not this crazy.
She said she was also confused by students’ use of ‘preferred pronouns.’
English is my third language – I learned it as an adult.
I sometimes still say ‘he’ or ‘she’ by mistake,’ and now they are going to ask me to call them ‘they.’ How the heck do I incorporate that into my sentences?
It felt like the regression in civilization.
There’s a lot more over at this link, but you get the gist. I mean think about it from Park’s perspective for just a moment. She escaped the world’s most oppressive regime, facing death on a daily basis, trekking across both freezing and boiling climates, surviving slavery, only to find herself in one of the top universities of the Western world and be told repeatedly that America is racist, oppressive and evil? By tenured professors on six-figure salaries who probably lived the most sheltered lives ever but think they know everything?
Obviously America does have its issues, but for someone like Park who lived in a genuinely brutal, oppressive and freedom-lacking country to then come over here and be told about Jane Austen’s ‘colonial mindset’ and ‘subconscious brainwashing’ is just embarrassing. If you’re that professor, surely you feel a bit ashamed saying that to someone who literally escaped North Korea? Well, probably not I bet.
Well anyway, it’s interesting to get a real insider perspective on the state of American universities in 2021, from someone who has lived real totalitarianism. Meanwhile over in the UK, a school made its male students stand up and ‘apologise for rapes committed by their gender’. Cue backlash.