Christopher Ah, a volunteer of the Cheolima Civil Defense, has been arrested for what he believed to be a kidnapping attempt by Spanish authorities as a rescue mission in Madrid. Born in Los Angeles, Ahn joined the Cheolima group to help North Korean defectors escape authoritarian rule. Nevertheless, a mission that took only a few minutes has put Ego in undeniable danger.
Originally, the Cheolima civil defense group planned to help a North Korean diplomat, Yun Suk Soo, escape by staging a mock kidnapping at the North Korean embassy in Madrid. North Korean authorities believe that it was a forcible abduction, Yun Suk Soo’s family would be able to avoid the dire consequences.
According to the refugees who fled North Korea, who are defective, they are called “traitors”, and three generations are forced into internment camps when their families flee back to North Korea. Therefore, a staged kidnapping seemed the safest way to free Yun Suk Soo.
Escape mission in spain
Prior to this mission in Madrid, Ahn worked only on lower back rescue. He will greet North Korean defectors at international airports and help them buy tickets for a safe country where they can seek asylum. Ah said: “People say we are underground railroads, but it was really just me buying tickets with my credit card on Expedia.”
When the founder of the Cheolima group, Adrian Hong, asked Ah if he could assist with their latest mission, Ah set off for Madrid knowing nothing of the plan ahead.
The group considered the mission relatively simple. They were to “kidnap”, therefore, his wife and son and take him to their designated AirBnb before being taken to freedom. The group also bought handcuffs and fake firearms while bringing candy for Soo’s younger son.
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However, once the group “took control” of the North Korean embassy, an unexpected leak alerted authorities that the embassy was under an actual attack. Suddenly, fearing the worst, Soo had changed his mind on his attempt to escape. He asks the group to leave immediately and he no longer wants to risk his life.
After leaving the group’s failed mission, they were unaware that the Spanish authorities had identified the members and even collected evidence from North Korean diplomats. The diplomats, who were afraid of being persecuted by North Korean officials, told Spanish prosecutors that they were beaten by members of Cheolima.
So it was also reported that the members had raided the embassy and tried to convince the diplomats to defect. Ahn has said that all of this is completely untrue, but understands that diplomats felt pressured to show that he had been attacked in North Korea to avoid retaliation from the government.
Several weeks later, back in Los Angeles, the FBI welcomed Ah to his home. Ah told him the details of the failed mission on tea. These agents had previously been in contact with the Cheolima group, so Ah claimed that they believed they only needed intelligence. The meeting ended with the agents informing Ego that he was in danger of being murdered by the North Korean government.
A few days later, Ah was arrested by the US Marshals. Ah said: “I wasn’t worried at first. I kept saying, ‘Can someone please call the FBI or State Department to clarify this. Clearly there has been a mistake. “
Now, what was a rescue operation is being considered by the authorities as a real attack on the North Korean embassy. “I thought I’d come home for dinner,” he said. Instead, Ah was taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles, where he spent three months.
By the end of March, the Spanish court dropped a confidentiality order on the case, revealing that the FBI was working with the Spanish investigation and informing them that Hong had given them the embassy material.
The judge granted Ego bail in spite of opposition from the US Department of Justice, deciding the evidence against Ego coming from a country that does not have diplomatic relations with the US, Ego’s bail was posted at $ 1.3 million, causing his The family was motivated to sell everything. . He was also ordered not to have any contact with Hong and his fellow Cheolima members at all.
Cheolima’s work to help North Korean convicts
Ahn clarified that the Cheolima group is not a team of militant extremists – he said Buzzfeed They are a group of young Americans who want to help North Korean convicts find a better life. “They are good kids who listened to their parents, got good grades, did a good job and followed the rules,” Ah said. “They are people who believe that individuals can get together and make a difference in the world … It’s not # idealism, it’s real.”
On March 1, 2019, Hong changed Cheolima’s name to Free Joseon. Hong said that “our millions of fellow Koreans are governed by a corrupt power, which remains rich by the toil of many.” Free Joseon Kim hopes to assist those trapped within the regime.
Life of christopher ah now
For almost two years, Ah was under complete detention, where he could not move beyond his front door. He had to keep his whole life on hold. He and his wife have decided to wait until the situation is resolved to have children.
At the end of last year, the judge changed his bail so that he could travel between 8 am and 8 pm, allowing him to take care of his ailing mother and grandmother at his nearby home.
Ah said he has no regrets about the mission in Madrid. Ah has said, “I try not to feel bitter. It comes down to it that if someone asks for help and I have the ability to help, I don’t want to be the kind of person who says no.”