A North Korean defector who moved to the United States says she thought she was entering a country that promoted free speech - instead, she found the opposite when she went to university.
Yeonmi Park attended Columbia University and she soon realised she was in a system that focused on political correctness and contained anti-Western sentiment.
She says she thought the system would encourage free thinking and open dialogue but instead found they were being forced to think a certain way.
Following her experience she said "even North Korea isn't this nuts".
"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 told Fox News.
"I realised, 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."
Park, 27, says she couldn't believe she would be asked to do "this much censoring of myself" at a university in the US.
She fears the US' future "is as bleak as North Korea".
Park saw the red flags immediately after being scolded by a staff member for admitting she enjoyed classic literature such as Jane Austen.
She was told "those writers had a colonial mindset", were "racists and bigots and subconsciously brainwashing you".
Park was also shocked and confused about the gender language issues after students were asked to provide their preferred pronouns.
With English the 27-year-old's third language, she was discouraged for still using "him" and "her" 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 was chaos. It felt like the regression in civilisation."
"Even North Korea is not this nuts," she admitted. "North Korea was pretty crazy, but not this crazy."
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 to 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 categorised based on their ancestors, she said.
She found she would get into arguments with lecturers and students about subjects and eventually learned "how to just shut up" in order to maintain her good grades.
"I literally crossed the Gobi Desert to be free and I realised I'm not free, America's not free."
Park fled North Korea in 2007, venturing across the Gobi Desert and into China before moving to South Korea.
She then went to school in New York in 2016.
She said cancel culture and shouting down opposing views is becoming censorship and fears western societies could eventually give up their rights without knowing they are doing so.
Park, who wrote about her escape from North Korea and life in the repressive regime in the 2015 memoir "In Order to Live," said Americans seem willing to give their rights away not realising they may never come back.
"Voluntarily, these people are censoring each other, silencing each other, no force behind it," she said.
"Other times (in history) there's a military coup d'etat, like a force comes in taking your rights away and silencing you. But this country is choosing to be silenced, choosing to give their rights away."
Park said she sees similarities between the US and North Korea.
"North Korea was pretty insane. Like the first thing my mum taught me was don't even whisper, the birds and mice could hear me.
"She told me the most dangerous thing that I had in my body was my tongue.
"So I knew how dangerous it was to say wrong things in a country."
Park, who witnessed starvation and death, says Americans are obsessed with oppression even though they haven't witnessed it first-hand.
The 27-year-old said the situation in North Korea is bleak because people don't have access to the internet and have limited exposure to the globe.
At school, she was taught dictator Kim Jong Un was "starving" and overworked.
However, when she moved to South Korea she was shown pictures that showed how fat he was compared to other North Korean citizens.
She says there are signs the US education system is doing the same thing to its citizens.
"That's what it does when you're brainwashed," she said.
"In some ways they (in the US) are brainwashed. Even though there's evidence so clearly in front of their eyes they can't see it."