SEOUL–The 10 soldiers in dark suits who raided the North Korean embassy in Madrid last month had one destination in memory, it would seem: to depose the existing regime of Kim Jong Un.
Although the scene of the Feb. 22 misdemeanour in Spain was many thousands of miles from the DMZ, specialists consider the 10 involved as the cutting edge of a North Korean dissident group that’s now called Jayu Joseon,” Free[ North] Korea .” It allegedly has the backing of some wealthy Koreans and strangers as well as ties inside the North–apparently the first organization to have set up an operational challenge to the leadership in Pyongyang.
The immediate purpose of the break-in was to grab computers and cellphones on which intelligence specialists could find top-secret message commerce to the former North Korean ambassador to Spain, Kim Hyok Chol.
He was expelled by Madrid in September 2017 after the United Nations prescribed new sanctions on the North for its nuclear and weapon experiments. But at the time of the attack last month he had a much more sensitive standing: Pyongyang &# x27; s envoy to the nuclear talks with Washington and Seoul.
The group busted into the embassy just five days before the summit in Hanoi between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which would have made any knowledge it picked up useful–but is also well been mentioned by specialists as a reason it was not sanctioned by the Americans. The timing would seem to be too provocative and health risks of scurrying the summit too high.
In any event, for a multitude of reasons foreseen long before the Madrid incident, the Hanoi summit was a failure.
Initial reports in Spain after the break-in did not mention Jayu Joseon( formerly identified Cheollima Civil Defense ), but did mention skepticisms among unnamed Spanish sovereignties that two of those individuals who took division had unspecified connections to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
Subsequent reports in The Washington Post and elsewhere have suggested Jayu Joseon operates entirely on its own. But the very long record of exile/ underground gestures around the world recommends they almost always have at least some aid from foreign powers, and are also welcome to receive direction from them.
Yet another clue of situations of extreme sensitivity of the Madrid operation is that Spanish authorities have not secreted any information on their investigation aside from the basic facts that the 10 soldiers had participated in the delegation, beat up and tied eight people inside, and remained there for several hours.
Jayu Joseon has yet to comment on the Madrid raid. Certainly, it might not have been publicized at all had a police vehicle not shown up at the embassy after a woman freed herself and appeared at a window hollering for help.
When a police officer knocked on the door, a human opened it up and said there was no problem. The police, regarding the embassy’s diplomatic status, did not attempt to enter and encounter for themselves.
Finally, the 10 fled in two luxury vehicles that sped through the opened gates of the embassy drive. The vehicles turned crazily through traffic before they were vacated and the three men disappeared without a trace–at least as far as public message is concerned.
Compounding the whodunit is due to the fact that North Koreans are not commenting on an episode that had to have embarrassed them by exposing the weakness of their own security and the loss of potentially valuable datum known merely at the highest levels.
Even when Spanish police firstly divulged word that two of the 10 had links to the CIA, it was evident Madrid dominions knew a lot more. Surely they would have searched and traced the vehicles to their owners, and they would have been expected to track down at the least some of the 10 rather than let all escape so flawlessly, in daylight, leaving no clues as to who they were or who was behind them.
( In that respect, the continuing operation is reminiscent of the sloppy CIA kidnapping of a jihadi off the street in Milan in February 2003, which eventually uncovered the assistance provided by local intelligence services as well .)
” That’s why many belief the CIA did that ,” said Kim Tae-woo.” That excuses the silence of the the Spanish government .”
Jayu Joseon, or Cheollima, appears not to out of nowhere. It previously supported Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Un’s rather more mellow, fun-loving and fairly chatty older half-brother, to overthrow and supersede him.
Kim Jong Nam was slaughtered in February 2017 when VX nerve agent, which form part of North Korea’s chem-bio warfare arsenal, was smeared on his face at Kuala Lumpur’s airport.
After the murder, presumed to have been orchestrated by Kim Jong Un’s agents, Jayu Joseon took credit for spiriting Kim Jong Nam’s son, Kim Han Sol, along with his mother and sister, out of their home in Macao and taking them to a foreign country, widely thought to be Finland since Han Sol broadcast a sorrowful theme on Finnish TV.
The Madrid 10 are assumed to have carried the equipment and mobile phones to a foreign intelligence agency. An auction to the highest bidder would not be extraordinary in such matters, but most of the distrust is focused on the CIA, which, if it could access the encrypted cloth in time, could have found information potentially useful for the Hanoi summit and afterward.
” They can see the North Korean strategy and aims ,” said Kim Tae-woo, former director of the Korea Institute of National Unification here.
Money for that possible treasure trove of information would have been only one motive for the raid. Patriotism and power are the core motivations for the group, said to be spearheaded by defectors from North Korea and what appear to be foreigners with a stake in their activities.
One strong sign of foreign commitment, says Kim Tae-woo, is that Korean-language statements on their website are written awkwardly, reflecting authorship by one whose Korean is less than perfect.
Adding to the suspected CIA connection are reports that the late Kim Jong Nam, before “hed left” his hotel in Kuala Lumpur for the airport, had been looked talking to an American. Then, after he was murdered by the two women who smeared the VX agent on his face, $124,000 in $100 invoices reportedly was found in his luggage, leading to speculation that he had been paid off for services to the Americans or to support Jayu Joseon or both.
Suspicions that Kim Jong Nam might have wanted to seize strength no doubt stimulation Kim Jong Un to want to get him out of the way.
Two young woman, one from Indonesia, the other from Vietnam, actually smeared the poison on on Kim Jong Nam’s is now facing the crowded airfield, but four North Koreans were caught on camera watching the whole episode. They had convinced the women this was a innocuous prank for which they paid them a small summarize. The four, rostered as required by Malaysian police, swiftly checked onto flights out of the country.
The Indonesian was liberate by the court last week after attorneys declined the subject against her, but the Vietnamese woman has been ordered to stand trial.
Early the morning of the court hearings, person spray-painted on the walls of the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, in Korean Hangul script, “Free North Korea”( Jayu Joseon ), and” Down with Kim Jong Un .”
” North koreans sends important letters to every delegation every month or so ,” said Ken Eom, who defected to South Korea 10 decades ago. But Jayu Joseon is believed to have selected the North Korean embassy in Spain rather than the much better North Korean embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, the centre of North Korean operations in Europe, for two reasons. First, the installation in Madrid, without the diplomat there, was not so tightly guarded as other delegations. And, second, Kim Hyok Chol while he was there would have been privy to the highest level of messages.
Whatever the planning, the raid exposes what is evidently the first sign of armed resist by a North Korean nonconformist group against Kim Jong Un and his authoritarian regime.
” We can be 99.9 percent assured that Cheollima[ Jayu Joseon] carried out the attack ,” says Lee Sung-yoon, professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.” They had all the incentive .”
As mentioned, Ambassador Kim Hyok Chol, after his expulsion, emerged as the North’s manager delegate in the difficult pre-summit dialogue with the U.S. emissary on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, and some of the letter commerce since his difference from Spain was presumed to concern those talks. The messages may have impeded on coming for some time through the delegation in Spain even though he would interpret them elsewhere. Or at the least that may have been the assumption of the Madrid 10.
The organization appears to have gone quiet after the Kim Jong Nam incident 2 years ago, with the Madrid incident marking a spectacular comeback.
It should be noted that South Korean President Moon Jae-in was elected in May 2017 and almost certainly has not been able to stand covert activity against North Korea by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service( NIS ).
” The NIS under Moon would certainly not be involved ,” said David Straub, former senior official at the U.S. delegation in Seoul.” The Moon administration’s policy involves appeasement of Pyongyang; this action is the opposite of that .”
Many NIS agents reportedly have been laid off under Moon, nonetheless, and just as retired South Korean military officers are often fairly critical of what the fuck is see as the government’s current soft strand against North koreans, so out-of-work NIS people speak derisively of the trend to reject or stillnes them.
Malcontents have reason to criticize the government’s policies.” So many have been deposed, they’re very upset ,” says Kim Tae-woo. But might a few want to consider supporting an armed gesture against the North?” Theoretically it’s possible, but there is no proof .”
For the record, both the U.S. and South Korea officially declared complete stupidity of the whole occasion beyond what they’ve seen in the media.” I have nothing to share at this time ,” said a U.S. delegation spokesman here.” We have nothing to confirm ,” echoed a expression at the The koreans foreign ministry .”
Jayu Joseon on the following website, in remedy English, throws the cruelty of the North koreans as the reason it cannot determine our own member, much less where they are.
” Do not forget how cruel the existing regime is ,” says the theme on the website.” Identification of one person may expose the identity of another member .” The website says” countrywomen and relatives have lost their lives in the mitts of the regime” and those who are imprisoned” will be put to death if it is revealed that they have heretics in their families .”
Jayu Joseon” proved credibility by behaving quickly and get Kim Han Sol, the son of Kim Jong Nam, to safety within periods of his father &# x27; s horrific assassination on Feb 13, 2017 ,” said Lee Sung-yoon.
” An halo of whodunit was made ,” said Lee.” Mystique and aura create anticipations of more brilliant accomplishments to come. But for the next two years different groups was silent. Then the attack on the DPRK Embassy in Madrid came only 5 days shy of the Trump-Kim Jong Un top in Hanoi .”
Lee is among those who believe the Cheollima organization, short of funds, may have hoped to use these CIA connections to empty all these information technology and telephones for a fat fee.” Approaching the U.S. government with the resources retrieved in Madrid would have been able procured different groups some care and even substantiate behind the scenes ,” he said.
Lee questions, however, whether the CIA would have scheduled the operation, reasoning,” For the CIA to commit such a brazen-faced act–and virtually get caught in the middle of it–and undermine Trump &# x27; s leverage would then be tantamount to treason .”
Analysts say Jayu Joseon is angling for assistance inside North koreans as well despite the obvious jeopardies of exposure and execution of anyone caught by Kim Jong Un’s protection apparatus.” Senior renegades say these guys have to have contacts ,” said Kim Sung-bak, Hanyang University expert on North koreans.” They try to establish themselves as the legal government .”
Chances of success are not good.” It &# x27; s hard to dream any resist group outside North Korea having ties and assistance inside the DPRK ,” said a retired U.S. official who asked that his identify not be used.” The dangers are just too high and the internal security in the North is just too tight and pervasive .”
Be that as it may, the shadowy anatomies behind the participants in the attack predict a long struggle.
” Please do not forget the kind of ruthless regime we are up against ,” says a message on the website.” They have no respect for international norms. The fight we are engaged in with the incumbent government is not a political race between peers, but a small revolutionary group, crusading and balk a totalitarian regime that maintains concentration camps, retains its people enslaved, and regularly kills its foes and the families of such .”
The inference was clear. They intend to be heard from again. The save of Kim Jong Nam’s son and the raid in Madrid are not likely to be the end of the story. In Kuala Lumpur, the writing was on the wall.
Itxu Diaz in Madrid also contributed reporting to this story . em>