Cheollima Civil Defense (CCD), the group which claimed in early March to have rescued Kim Jong Nam’s son and many other North Korean defectors, released an open letter to South Korean presidential candidates on Tuesday night Seoul time.
The open letter to the candidates is the third post uploaded by the mysterious group, and the first time it has weighed in on South Korean domestic politics.
“We would like to make a request to the presidential candidates,” the title of the letter, uploaded on its website, reads.
“Many people are looking forward to freedom and are waiting for our help. There are those who worry about the upcoming presidential election in the South (Korea); so, we would like to ask a question to the candidates politely: will you embrace and defend each and every defector who is looking for shelter?”
The letter, written only in Korean, was uploaded at 11:52 p.m. Seoul time Tuesday.
“Apart from this matter, we are aware that many other issues related to the future of the South and the North – the Korean Peninsula – are intertwined in this election,” the letter goes on to say.
“However, in the past, we have observed how rapidly defector policies can change depending on the presidential policies.”
“Because of this concern, unless the protection of defectors is ensured – in all of our conscience, we cannot provide help to those who have headed to there (South Korea).”
The letter ended by urging the candidates to respond via press release, and added that they will continue their work of providing protection for North Korean defectors.
It seems possible that the letter was originally written in a foreign language and was later translated into Korean, as many parts of the sentences do not sound natural or are grammatically wrong.
For example, part of the letter reads “those who have headed” (향한) to South Korea. But as CCD was referring to the future events, it would only make sense if it was written as “those who may head” (향할) to South Korea in future.
The identity of CCD remains a mystery, and even South Korea’s Unification Ministry claims to be unaware of the organization’s origin.
“There is nothing the ministry has figured out (about CCD),” Lee Duk-haeng, a ministry spokesperson, said during a regular Wednesday briefing.
A Youtube video released by the organization in March, purporting to feature Kim Han Sol
CCD received major media attention in early March, when it released its first open letter and a Youtube video featuring a man believed to be Kim Han Sol – the eldest son of Kim Jong Nam – who went missing after his father was murdered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in February.
The group has given few details about their origins, and have claimed to have “helped many North Koreans” escape the DPRK.
One long-time North Korea watcher strongly supported the CCD’s decision to release the letter, urging the candidates to respond to the group’s request.
“It is not impudent for them to ask who stands for them,” Joshua Stanton, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney and author of the One Free Korea blog told NK News. “If the candidates do not answer the fellow Koreans, they will eventually have to answer to history.”
At the time of publication, none of the South Korean presidential candidates have responded to CCD’s letter.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: ROK Presidential candidates’ Facebook pages
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