Shadowy CCD Responsible For North Korean Embassy Break in
A bold raid on the North Korean embassy in Madrid last month was carried out by members of an ultra-secretive North Korean dissident group called the CCD.
A group called the Cheollima Civil Defense (CCD) claimed responsibility for the mysterious attack by ten masked men on the North Korean embassy in Madrid, Spain last month.
A document of the Spain Higher Court revealed that the dissident group entered the embassy building equipped with knives, swords, steel bats and cables. The raid took place five days before the second meeting of President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un in Hanoi but gained little media attention.
While leaving the embassy building, the raiders took several computers, hard drives, USB drives and cellphones; those items have been handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The CCD denied the allegations that its members tied and beat some of the embassy’s employees, saying that they did not use any weapons aand treated the embassy’s staff members with the utmost respect.
The secretive organization also denied foreign involvement behind the raid and that the incident had anything to do with the Trump-Jong-un summit in Hanoi.
The CCD decided to halt its operations temporarily after the Spanish court issued arrest warrants for two suspects who escaped to the U.S.
Previously, two Spanish media outlets publicized that there was a suspicion that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was behind the raid. But the claim was dubious since they did not provide any evidence showing the CIA’s role in the attack.
Robert Palladino from Spain’s Foreign Ministry said that the U.S. government had nothing to do with the embassy raid, adding that Washington always calls for the protection for diplomatic missions throughout the world.
Who are the CCD?
The CCD, also known as Free Joseon, refers to itself as an organization that helps North Korean defectors and aims to depose the Kim dynasty.
The word “Cheollima” refers to a winged horse commonly found in Asian mythology and is shown in materials spread by Pyongyang to promote its economic development, as AP reported.
The organization’s reputation drew international attention in 2017 when it provided protection for Jong-un’s nephew, whose father (Kim Jong-nam) was killed by a banned VX nerve agent in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Pyongyang was believed to be behind the Jong-nam killing, despite its public denial. Many analysts said that the Jong-un regime might have seen Jong-nam as a threat.
The CCD gained notoriety by finding Kim Han-sol a few days before his dad’s murder, said Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.
The CCD sometimes posts its activity on the video sharing platform YouTube, but it never interacts with the press, making it less-known to the public.
According to reports, in an effort to raise funds to support its efforts to oust Kim Jong-un, the CCD will sell 200,000 blockchain-based “post-liberation” visas to visit “Free Joseon.” Free Joseon is the name the group plans to give North Korea once it’s liberated from Kim Jong-un. The visa issuance took place on March 24 and will expire in March 2029.
CCD’s US Ties
One of the group’s members is Adrian Hong Chang, a U.S.-based human rights activist who established a refugee aid center called Liberty in North Korea (LiNK).
Chang is believed to be the leader of the raid in the embassy. Spanish court documents showed that Adrian Hong Chang was thought to have bought some items from a store in Madrid prior to the intrusion.
Hong Chang has a Mexican passport since his parents are Mexican missionaries. He was arrested in China in 2006 for helping North Korean defectors.
Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that two CCD members are affiliated with the CIA, but the CIA declined to comment on the allegation.
But Hannah Song, LiNK CEO, said she had no idea about Hong Chang’s activities and knew nothing about the embassy’s raid.
“We have no knowledge of his recent activities, and we have no information on the Madrid Embassy incident other than what has been published by the media,” Song told ABC News.
Hong Chang has not been reached for comment. Lee Wolosky, an American lawyer for the CCD, regretted the misinformation regarding the comment of a Spanish judge, adding the decision to name those who opposed the Jong-un regime could be very risky to the CCD.
Dissident Groups Still Cannot Do Anything to Topple the Ruling Dynasty
The CCD represents the first time a North Korean dissident group has managed to establish a public presence, as the country is highly secretive and has almost full control over its citizens’ activities.
Another prominent defector is Oh Chong Song, who escaped to South Korea in November 2017. He was shot five times but still survived.
Song came from a high-class family but he admitted having no loyalty to the Kim regime. The former police officer added that famine is still a major problem.
Defectors like Song and the prominence of the CCD may inspire other rebel groups to stand up against the regime, but regime change is still unlikely, as North Korean defector Ken Eom said.
“In North Korea, there are some resistance movements but they cannot change the regime, I think, because there is too much surveillance by groups such as police, the national security agency and even the party members’ reporting body, which makes it almost impossible to organise a movement,” said Eom, who once served in the North Korean military and defected to South Korea in 2010.