Yeonmi Park, who defected from North Korea, is criticizing the “unthinkable” actions of Team USA hammer thrower Gwen Berry after she turned her back to the American flag as the national anthem played. She would then shift to face the crowd and covered her head with a T-shirt that read, “Activist Athlete.”
“If she did the exact same thing at this very moment, if she was North Korean, not only herself will be executed, [also] eight generations of her family can be sent to political prison camp and execution,” Park said.
Park added that Berry does not know how good she and other Americans have it compared to dictatorships globally.
“I was a slave,” Park said. “I was sold in China in 2007 as a child at 13 years old. The people actually called it slavery under [the] Chinese Communist Party in North Korea.”
“There is actual injustice [there], and the fact that she’s complaining about this country — the most tolerant country — she doesn’t really understand history,” she added.
Park said Berry was “so privileged” and that she does not know what oppression under a dictatorship really looks like.
“In North Korea, people who are actually oppressed don’t even know they’re oppressed,” she said. “The fact that she’s complaining about oppression and systemic racism — she does not understand that she’s so privileged.”
“There are people dying to come to America at this very moment,” Park said. “I just hope they go to North Korea, China and see how humans are being oppressed, and they will truly understand how valuable the freedom that we have is.”
Berry said only time will tell if she’ll do the same should she make it to the Olympic podium.
“We’ll see … It depends on how I’m feeling,” the track and field star said while appearing on “Don Lemon Tonight” Thursday. “It depends on what I want to do in that moment, and what I want to do for my people in that moment.”
“I do respect the Constitution,” Berry told Lemon. “But I will not stand for any symbol or song that does not stand for all people in America.”
When asked by Lemon which part of the song upset her, Berry said, “It’s all of these words. Freedom, justice… these are things that do not hold true for all Americans.”
Berry boldy said using her voice is her priority over any repercussions, including losing sponsorships.
“I’ve already been through all of that,” she said. “And yet I am still here, still saying that my Black communities need help.”