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View more articles by Dagyum Ji and Oliver Hotham
Dagyum Ji and Oliver Hotham
Dagyum Ji is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul. Oliver Hotham is Managing Editor of NK News.
A mysterious underground organization tied to the February break-in at the DPRK embassy in Madrid on Sunday urged international press to cover the “verifiable facts” and promised a major event.
In a statement by the Cheollima Civil Defense group, also known as “Free Joseon,” released on its website at 2225 UST, the organization promised to work for the “dismantlement of prison camps” in North Korea and support “reform and opening” in the country.
“We are currently preparing for a major event,” a Korean-language statement said. “Until then, we will keep silent like the calm before the storm.”
“Please support the new miraculous truth that we are creating and stand patiently,” it continued, promising to “strictly give commands against the Kim Jong Un regime.”
The statement is the first by the group since its announcement last Thursday that it would suspend activities in response to a series of “speculative attack articles,” with the group reiterating its commitment to bringing about regime change in the North.
Sunday’s statement urged media not to trust “persons who impersonate our organization,” complaining that media coverage of its activities “does not coincide with the facts.”
“We ask you to cover the… verifiable facts,” it said. “The more the Kim Jong Un regime denies the orders of freedom, [the more] it will experience shame.”
It also comes a day after the North Korean government released its first public statement on February’s embassy break-in, with a spokesperson condemning what it described as the “grave terrorist attack” on its diplomats in Madrid.
“An illegal intrusion into and occupation of diplomatic mission and act of extortion are a grave breach of the state sovereignty and a flagrant violation of international law,” the spokesperson was quoted as having said by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
In a statement dismissing the perpetrators of the break-in as a “small fry” organization, the spokesperson accused them of having “bound, beat and tortured the Embassy staff and extorted the communication apparatus.”
The Cheollima Civil Defense organization first emerged in March 2017 following the death of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother Kim Jong Nam.
Their first public appearance came in a video featuring Kim Jong Nam’s son Kim Han Sol, with an accompanying statement saying that they were protecting Kim and his family.
They reemerged early this year, declaring the establishment of the “Free Joseon” government in exile and appearing to claim responsibility for a recent incident in which the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur was vandalized.
Last week, just hours after Spanish authorities named the U.S.-based human rights activist Adrian Hong as having led a break-in at the North Korean embassy in Madrid on February 22, the group took responsibility for the break-in.
Edited by Colin Zwirko