Kim Han-sol is shown in a videoFree Joseon, the North Korean dissident group that raided Pyongyang’s embassy in Madrid in February, released a video clip of Kim Han-sol, son of Kim Jong-un’s half brother Kim Jong-nam, thanking the group for helping him take refuge after his father was assassinated.
“We are very grateful for Adrian for his help, for Adrian and his team,” Kim says in a video clip released by Channel A, a South Korean broadcaster, on Tuesday. Channel A said it received the clip from Free Joseon.
The Adrian he referred to is probably Adrian Hong Chang, a Mexican citizen who has widely been identified as Free Joseon’s leader and the mastermind behind the raid.
The clip completes a former video clip of Kim released by Free Joseon on YouTube on March 8, 2017. The clip was allegedly filmed after Kim fled Macau in 2017 after his father was assassinated at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia on Feb. 13.
“My father has been killed a few days ago I am currently with my mother and sister,” Kim says in the clip. “And we are very grateful to …” The rest of that sentence is cut off in the original video clip on YouTube.
The clip from Free Joseon to Channel A completes that sentence.
According to a Spanish High Court report released in March, 10 assailants belonging to Free Joseon including Hong Chang stormed North Korea’s embassy in Madrid on Feb. 22. Armed with knives and fake guns, the group allegedly stole computers and pen drives reportedly containing sensitive information before successfully escaping to the United States. Hong allegedly tried to give the items stolen by the group to the FBI in New York, claiming they contained important intelligence. The FBI has not commented on the allegation.
Hong Chang is a resident of California. Spanish authorities requested U.S. authorities’ help in arresting and extraditing him and a U.S. court in California issued a warrant for Hong Chang’s arrest on April 9. U.S. authorities raided his apartment in California last month but they did not find Hong Chang.
The group may be trying to divert the search by U.S. and Spanish authorities, a source told the JoongAng Ilbo.
“Free Joseon may be trying to cut short the investigations by throwing out the name of Adrian Hong Chang, so that the search for personnel in the organization focuses on Adrian,” said a former employee of an intelligence agency in South Korea on the condition of anonymity. “But it’s hard to know what is really going on here without having all the information at hand.”
Channel A also reported that Free Joseon, which was formerly called Cheollima Civil Defense, emphasized the group’s international network when it relayed the video clip to the broadcaster.
“We are an organization with a presence in Pyongyang and other areas around the world,” the group reportedly wrote in an email to the broadcaster. “That is why Kim Han-sol’s call for rescue reached us first after Kim Jong-nam was assassinated.”
The group, however, denied the allegation that it had plans in the past or present to oust the Kim Jong-un leadership by supporting Kim Jong-nam or Kim Han-sol.
BY LEE KEUN-PYUNG, ESTHER CHUNG AND JEONG YONG-SOO [email@example.com]