The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
North Korea is history’s most perfected totalitarian state. Ruled by a deified dynastic dictatorship whose record of crimes against humanity is unparalleled, according to the UN Commissioner on Human Rights, no organized resistance against the regime has been reported. Until now.
A mysterious group called Free Joseon —or Free North Korea — has broken Pyongyang’s seven-decades-long record of untouchability and trampled on its greatest taboo: The “Supreme Dignity” Kim Jong Un must never be desecrated.
In February, members of the group infiltrated the North Korean Embassy in Madrid and got away with computers, thumb drives, hard disks and a cellphone. They later shared the booty with the FBI.
But now the group and its defiant message are threatened by an unlikely source — the United States. Federal authorities, in compliance with Spain’s request to extradite the suspects in the Madrid case, last week arrested one of the suspects in Los Angeles, an American-born former US Marine, and raided the apartment of the organization’s leader, who is in hiding from US authorities and North Korean hit squads. Both men are of Korean descent.
It is within the Spanish court’s jurisdiction to seek to hold accountable anyone who broke into an embassy on its soil. However, North Korea is a state sponsor of terrorism that has shown few qualms about attempting extrajudicial killings of defectors and other “enemies of the state,” even on foreign soil. Last month, when Spain’s high court disclosed the names of the embassy suspects, it endangered the activists and their families.
US authorities have filed a criminal complaint alleging the dissidents used force and abused embassy staff during the Madrid action. Free Joseon denies the charges. For the US to accept what is essentially a North Korean version of the events is to effectively defend the Kim regime. It sends the message to Pyongyang that its egregious crimes lie beyond the concern of the world’s presumptive champion of freedom and democracy.
The US must not do Kim’s bidding. Our extradition treaty with Spain provides for a refusal to extradite if we regard the offence in question as political. The North Korean Embassy breach surely was that, and the US should seek to protect the dissidents rather than hand them over to Spain.
Free Joseon’s stance against the North Korean government is clear. It announced itself under the name Cheollima Civil Defense in 2017, taking credit for spiriting away to safety the surviving family members of Kim Jong Nam, the paternal half-brother of Kim Jong Un, who was killed in public at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February 2017.
On March 1 of this year, the centennial of the Korean independence movement against Japanese colonial rule, Free Joseon proclaimed itself the provisional government of the north, dedicated to abolishing Kim Jong Un’s tyranny, which it called “a stain on the very soul of humanity.” The group released a video clip of a woman in traditional Korean garb reading the declaration in the heart of Seoul. Aptly, she spoke with a North Korean accent.
In mid-March the group spray- painted its name, symbol and the words “We shall rise” on the wall of the North Korean Embassy in Malaysia, just hours before the Malaysian court pardoned one of the two assailants in Kim Jong Nam’s killing. A few days later, it released a video clip of a man smashing framed pictures of Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung.
The shock effect of the video on the North Korean people cannot be overstated. Portraits of the ruling family are ubiquitous in North Korea, and all are told to protect the pictures with their lives. To deface the images is an unthinkable crime in the cult-dictated, conformity-imposed surveillance state. The video would prompt at once horror and catharsis in average North Koreans.
Free Joseon is a textbook resistance movement, using asymmetric and psychological warfare. Against a state that employs a powerful web of security forces and a cruel penal system to oppress its own people, low-level asymmetric tactics are the only means available. A $20 investment in spray paint can embarrass Pyongyang’s massive security apparatus. Turning over to authorities computers stolen from the Madrid embassy signals that Free Joseon isn’t a criminal enterprise in the usual sense.
In the dystopia of George Orwell’s novel “1984,” “war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.” The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s dystopia turns some of that creed around, but the surreal contradictions remain: The past 66 years of de facto peace is framed as continual war, slavery is freedom, and, yes, the people’s ignorance is the state’s strength.
The launch came after North Korea carried out a military drill and fired multiple projectiles on Saturday, with at least one believed to be a short-range missile.
Xi is the first Chinese president to visit North Korea in 14 years, after relations between the Cold War era allies deteriorated over Pyongyang's nuclear provocations and Beijing's subsequent backing of UN sanctions.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet US President Donald Trump on Thursday hoping to help put denuclearization talks with North Korea back on track after a failed summit between the United States and North Korean leaders in February.
Four months after the March massacre of 51 Muslim men, women and children in two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, gun owners have begun exchanging military-style semi-automatic weapons for money. In the first of 250 planned
The enthusiasm and amazing speed at which Dubai is gearing up for World Expo 2020 makes it abundantly clear that the event will turn out to be extraordinary and offer endless reasons for participants from across the globe to cheer. Adding to the attraction is the fact that it will be the first to be staged in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia
The choosing of Dubai as the ‘’Capital of Arab Media’’ for the year 2020 by the Arab Information Ministers Council is a well-deserved accolade for the dazzling Emirate.
A cunning rat leaves a sinking ship. Yet it’s a striking feature of today’s Conservative Party that so many are scrabbling to stay aboard their listing vessel instead. Amber Rudd and the ever versatile Matt Hancock have even converted to the cause of a crash-out Brexit, despite previously warning it would be the economic equivalent of scuttling your own fleet at Scarpa Flow.