North Korea embassy raiders promise 'bigger things ahead'

SEOUL • A shadowy dissident group allegedly behind a raid last month on North Korea's embassy in Madrid yesterday promised "bigger things ahead", but said it would temporarily suspend operations because of intense media scrutiny.

The Cheollima Civil Defence (CCD) group emerged from the shadows this week to claim responsibility for a commando-style raid on Pyongyang's embassy to highlight illicit activities rampant in North Korea's foreign missions.

On Wednesday, a Spanish court named Adrian Hong Chang, a Mexican national, as being the leader of the group which burst into the diplomatic mission and roughed up employees before fleeing with documents and computers.

"We are a group of defectors who have come together with compatriots around the world," the CCD said on its website.

Various preparations to "shake the Kim Jong Un regime by the root" were under way, it said, but added that they had been hampered by a spike in media interest.

"The activities of the members have been temporarily suspended," it said, adding: "The media should refrain from sticking their nose in the nature of our group and our members. We have bigger things ahead of us."

The statement did not offer any clues about where the group was located, but said it was not collaborating with defectors in South Korea due to "strict security reasons".

 
 

Analysts said the current media exposure could be both good and bad for the group's future activities.

"They can receive international support from anti-Pyongyang forces, so it has created an atmosphere for them to do more open, public campaigning," said Mr An Chan-il, a defector-turned-researcher in Seoul.

But Dr Shin Beom-cheol, a researcher at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies, said the group now faced possible reprisals from Pyongyang.

"If they set up an office in South-east Asia or the United States, it could in turn face an attack from North Korea," he said.

Mr Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector and activist based in Seoul who claims knowledge of CCD, told AFP the group's alleged leader Hong Chang, who goes by the name Adrian Hong in the US, was a well-educated, long-time human rights activist.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2019, with the headline 'North Korea embassy raiders promise 'bigger things ahead''. Print Edition | Subscribe