Free Society

Free Society programming at Hannibal-LaGrange University is focused on promoting the ideals of a free society. We focus on three foundations of a free society, which are democratic form of government, free market economic systems, and cultural institutions, like the church. The speakers we bring to campus and events we host emphasize concepts within these three foundations, often viewing them through the lens of a Biblical worldview which is central to the mission of Hannibal-LaGrange University.

Free Society events are made possible and in partnership with the Moorman Foundation.

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Hannibal-LaGrange University will host North Korean defector, human rights activist, and best-selling author, Yeonmi Park, on Tuesday, April 25 at 6:00 p.m. in the Parker Theatre of the Roland Fine Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public.

This event is part of the Free Society Speaker Series that HLGU hosts in partnership with the Moorman Foundation.

Born in a punishing society devoted to the worship of Kim Jong-Il, Yeonmi Park is a leading voice of oppressed people around the world. Growing up in Hyesan, North Korea, it was normal for Park to see dead bodies as she walked to school, and to be so hungry that she ate wild plants. After watching a pirated copy of Titanic, the veil of tyranny began to fall. Having caught a glimpse of a free world, Park realized that her experience of life wasn’t the only one—and that she might one day find a way out.

In 2002, Park’s family suffered a crucial blow when her father was arrested and sent to prison camp. In 2007, Park’s sister escaped with a friend before she and her mother followed her to China. But before they could locate her, Park and her mother were sold separately to Chinese human traffickers. She recounts the story of finding freedom in South Korea in her searing memoir In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom, and in the insightful, moving talks based on her experiences.

An insightful and candid speaker, Park is fast becoming a leading voice of oppressed people around the world. At the 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 320 million times.

“Yeonmi Park is an inspiration to those who truly care for and value freedom,” says Dr. Eric Turner, Christian Studies Division Chair at HLGU. “As a North Korean defector, her story reminds us of the importance of maintaining free societies where everyone who is made in the image of God can flourish.”

Park has been named one of BBC’s “Top 100 Global Women,” as she delivers passionate and deeply personal speeches. Park’s story brings the importance of free society topics to life in a raw, genuine, and powerful way. The fundamentals of freedom that Park says must be fought for are often ones taken for granted. In her viral talks, Park urges audiences to recognize—and resist—the oppression that exists in North Korea and around the world.

“You will not want to miss hearing from Yeonmi and her captivating testimony of perseverance and grace,” Turner says.

For more information about this event and the Free Society Speaker Series at HLGU, email