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Cheollima Civil Defense

North Korea has labeled a break-in at its Madrid embassy last month as a “grave terrorist attack”.

In its first official comment, the North Korean government called for an investigation and said it was closely watching rumors that the FBI had played a role.

On March 27, the Cheollima Civil Defense (CDC), a group committed to ousting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said it carried out the raid.

The group took computers and data and said it gave its evidence to the FBI.

At least two international arrest warrants have been issued for the main suspects.

Spanish authorities say one suspect, named as Adrian Hong Chang, gained access by asking to see the commercial attaché, whom he claimed to have met previously to discuss business matters. His accomplices burst in once he was inside.

The CDC is accused of interrogating the attaché and trying to persuade him to defect. When he refused, they left him tied up in the basement.

Two other members of the break-in group were named as US citizen Sam Ryu, and a South Korean, Woo Ran Lee.

Embassy staff were held hostage for several hours. One woman managed to flee, escaping through a window and screaming for help. Concerned neighbors quickly called the police.

When officers arrived, they were greeted by Adrian Hong Chang, posing as a North Korean diplomat in a jacket with a Kim Jong-un lapel badge.

He told the police that all was well, and nothing had happened.

Most of the group later fled the embassy in three North Korean diplomatic vehicles. Adrian Hong Chang and some others left later via the back entrance using another vehicle.

They split up into four groups and headed to Portugal. Adrian Hong Chang – a Mexican citizen who lives in the US – allegedly contacted the FBI to give his version of events five days later.

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CDC, also known as Free Joseon, is committed to overthrowing North Korea’s ruling Kim dynasty.

A video posted on the group’s website and YouTube page purports to show one of the intruders smashing portraits of North Korea’s leaders inside the Madrid embassy.

The Cheollima Civil Defense first came to prominence after taking credit for getting Kim Jong-un’s nephew, Kim Han-sol, safely out of Macau after the assassination of his father.

Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader’s estranged half-brother, was murdered at an airport in Malaysia in 2017.

Kim Han-sol has expressed his desire to go back to North Korea, and has referred to his uncle as a “dictator”.

Sources close to the investigation reportedly told Spanish newspaper El País that the operation was planned perfectly, as if by a “military cell”.

According to El País and El Confidencial, the attackers seemed to know what they were looking for. Spanish authorities suspect US intelligence agencies and their allies could have been involved in the attack.

El País even reports that two of the group have links to the CIA.

The US has denied any involvement in the raid.

Reports say the attackers could have been looking for information on North Korea’s former ambassador to Madrid, Kim Hyok-chol, who was expelled from Spain in September 2017 over North Korea’s nuclear testing program.


A mystery video of Kim Jong-nam’s son has emerged amid investigation of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s murder.

In the short and censored clip, the young man says: “My name is Kim Han-sol, from North Korea, part of the Kim family.”

Kim Jan-sol says he is with his mother and sister, but there are no details on the date or location. It’s the Kim family’s first public comment since Kim Jong-nam’s assassination in Malaysia.

Kim Jong-nam was killed in a Kuala Lumpur airport on February13 by attackers who smeared his face with VX nerve agent.

Officials at South Korea’s Unification Ministry and National Intelligence Service have confirmed that the man in the video is Kim Han-sol.

The 40-second clip features the man identified as Kim Han-sol sitting against a grey wall. In perfect, slightly accented English, he introduces himself and says: “My father has been killed a few days ago. I’m currently with my mother and my sister.”

Kim Han-sol shows what appears to be a North Korean diplomatic passport to confirm his identity, though the details have been blocked out, and says he is “grateful to…” before the audio and image are censored.

The man ends by saying: “We hope this gets better soon.”

Image source YouTube

As Kim Jong-nam was killed last month, it is unclear when and where the video was filmed, and what Kim Han-sol’s current whereabouts are.

The video was put online by a group called the Cheollima Civil Defense (CCD) – they have not previously been heard of, and appear to have registered a website and YouTube account only recently.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the group presumably assists escaping North Koreans – there is a town south-west of Pyongyang named Cheollima. They sent the video link to the Malaysia correspondent for Channel News Asia.

A message in English on the CCD site said it had responded to a request for protection from “survivors of the family of Kim Jong-nam”.

“We have in the past addressed other urgent needs for protection. This will be the first and last statement on this particular matter, and the present whereabouts of this family will not be addressed.”

The group also thanked several countries for offering emergency humanitarian assistance, including the Netherlands, China and the US and “a fourth government to remain unnamed”, while giving particular thanks to the Netherlands ambassador in South Korea, AJA Embrechts.

Kim Han-sol is believed to be 21, and has lived a low-profile life since his father’s exile, growing up in Macau and China.

In 2012, Kim Han-sol appeared in a TV interview for Finnish TV from Bosnia, where he was studying, saying he had never met his powerful uncle or his grandfather, the late Kim Jong-il.

Kim Han-sol said he had “always dreamed that one day I would go back and make things better and make it easier for the people” of North Korea.