The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that anti-North Korean group Free Joseon was involved in the defection of Jo Song Gil, a former North Korean acting ambassador to Italy who disappeared in November 2018.
Quoting multiple sources who are familiar with the matter, the WSJ said Jo and his wife never came back from their morning walk, claiming that a Free Joseon driver took the couple. It also said the driver was able to avoid any suspicion because the embassy is located in an affluent suburban area in Rome where it is common for drivers to wait on the street.Free Joseon is known as a group that protected Kim Han Sol, the son of Kim Jong Nam who was assassinated in Malaysia in 2017, and was behind the raid on the North Korean embassy in Madrid, Spain last February. It remains unknown when and how Adrian Hong, the leader of Free Joseon, met Jo. “Whenever Mr. Jo went around Rome, he was accompanied by an apparatchik, and Hong adopted the pretext of being a businessman interested in North Korea,” said the WSJ.
The whereabouts of Jo and his wife are still unknown except that they are staying in a Western country. Their teenage daughter who did not seek asylum with her parents has reportedly gone back to North Korea. After the former ambassador’s defection, Pyongyang’s diplomats residing overseas were called in for indoctrination sessions.