April 01, 2019 11:02
North Korea on Sunday made its first comment on a daredevil raid by a dissident group on its embassy in Spain in February, denouncing it as a "terrorist attack."
A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry said the incursion was a "grave breach of the state sovereignty and a flagrant violation of international law."
The armed assailants "bound, beat and tortured" embassy staff and stole communications equipment, the spokesman added, and warned that Pyongyang is monitoring "rumors" that the FBI was involved.
A shadowy dissident group calling itself Free Jeoson that reportedly includes exiled members of the ruling Kim family has claimed responsibility for the raid and said it shared information it stole from the embassy with the FBI.
But North Korea made no mention of the group and merely called on Spanish authorities to "bring the terrorists and their wire-pullers to justice in conformity with the relevant international law."
Nam Joo-hong at Kyonggi University said, "It looks like North Korea felt it could stay silent no longer and decided to raise possible U.S. involvement and use it as leverage in future talks with Washington. But it could hardly go into specifics and admit that there was a direct [first-line] descendant of the Kim dynasty involved."
Free Jeoson said it rescued the son of former leader Kim Jong-un's eldest son Jong-nam after the latter was assassinated by North Korean agents in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, and Kim Han-sol (23) is now an active member of the group.
That could in some eyes legitimize the group's claim to be the North Korean government-in-exile and presents a huge headache for the regime, especially since Free Jeoson has embraced modern urban guerrilla tactics rather than the staid campaigns of other defector groups.
Meanwhile Thae Yong-ho, the former No. 2 at the North Korean Embassy in London who defected in 2016, said, "What is more important than human lives at embassy is the computers that decipher coded messages exchanged with Pyongyang. I think that's what the intruders were after."
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