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Anti-N. Korea group helped hide fugitive diplomat: report

Jo Song-gil, Pyongyang's former acting ambassador to Rome, disappeared with his wife in Italy in November 2018. (Yonhap)
Jo Song-gil, Pyongyang's former acting ambassador to Rome, disappeared with his wife in Italy in November 2018. (Yonhap)

Free Joseon, a clandestine anti-Pyongyang political group, helped North Korea’s top diplomat in Italy go into hiding in November 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the US newspaper said Free Joseon arranged a car and a safe house for Jo Song-gil, who was then acting ambassador to Rome, and his wife.

After having told colleagues he was going for a stroll, Jo got into the car awaiting them nearby the embassy’s compound, which was then driven by a secret member of Free Joseon to a safe house. He brought along his wife, but left behind the daughter.

Pyongyang’s top diplomat is reportedly seeking political asylum in a Western country at an undisclosed location. His daughter was repatriated to Pyongyang shortly after he and his wife had gone missing, according to Italy’s Foreign Ministry.

Free Joseon was established in 2017 to support North Korean defectors and denounce the Kim Jong-un regime, which it describes as illegitimate, accusing Kim of association with terrorism and torture of his people.

The political group was reportedly involved in the raid on the North Korea Embassy in Madrid on Feb. 22 last year. The group was formerly called Cheollima Civil Defense.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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