North Korea’s new enemy: Free North Korea

Thomas Brown
6 min readJun 19, 2019

The saga of the Hermit Kingdom gets weirder

In February of this year, the embassy for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in Madrid, Spain, was attacked. Ten men broke into the embassy, beat and interrogated the staff, and left with stolen computers, hard drives, flash drives, and cellphones. North Korea has a new enemy. A small and secretive group calling itself the “Provisional Government of Free Joseon (Free North Korea)” or Free Joseon, the culprits behind the embassy raid.

This organization is possibly the first ever active and organized opposition group to the family that’s ruled North Korea since the nation’s founding. Not much is known about Free Joseon except that they have been busy and that they may have connections to the US government.

The group’s name, Joseon, is how North Koreans refer to their country and to the Korean peninsula as a whole. Which they kind of see as one and the same, eventually. Similar to their Chinese neighbor’s attitude to a certain large island, there is only one Korea: Joseon. The name, also spelled Chosun, comes from the last Korean dynasty to rule the peninsula before being annexed by the Japanese in the early 20th century.

The Chollima Movement Statue in Pyongyang

They originally referred to themselves as the Cheollima Civil Defense and in fact this is still the URL of the group’s website. Cheollima, or Chollima, is a magical pegasus type creature popular in myths throughout east Asia. There is special significance for the beast in North Korea. Kim Il-sung, the nation’s founder, named his version of the Great Leap Forward the Chollima Movement. Statues of Chollima can be found throughout Pyongyang, “symbolizing heroism, the constant, fighting spirit of the Korean people, and the innovations and advance so quickly, at the speed of the Chollima.” Perhaps most important of all, it is the nickname of the national football (soccer) team.

What does Free Joseon want?

As the name implies, free North Korea is not only the title of the group, it is their mission statement, but much more than that, it is also their identity. Free Joseon have declared themselves to be the North Korean provisional government and “ the sole legitimate representative of the Korean people of the north. “…