Keynote Speaker

Yeonmi Park in a black dress leaning against a blue wall.

Our Keynote Speaker Yeonmi Park

Twenty-four-year-old human rights activist and North Korean defector Yeonmi Park is fast becoming a leading voice of oppressed people around the world. At the 2014 Oslo Freedom Forum and the One Young World Summit in Dublin, she became an international phenomenon, delivering passionate and deeply personal speeches about the brutality of the North Korean regime.

Her address to One Young World on the horrors of detention camps, political executions, and sex trafficking has been viewed over 80 million times on YouTube. Park’s escape from North Korea has given the world a window into the lives of its people. The BBC named her one of their Top Global Women. In 2017, Park joined the Tory Burch Foundation’s Embrace Ambition campaign, a global effort to dispel the double standard of ambition as a positive trait in men and a negative trait in women.

Born in Hyesan, North Korea, Yeonmi grew up in a society devoted to the worship of Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il and hatred for enemies of his regime. It was normal for Park to see dead bodies as she walked to school and to be so hungry she ate wild plants. After watching a pirated copy of the film Titanic, the veil of tyranny began to fall. Yeonmi had caught a glimpse of a free world that one day she would yearn to join. Read her full bio here .

CNU faculty, students and staff are invited to attend conference panel sessions. Meals and keynote address are for registered guests.