Straight from a bad spy novel, several individuals led by a Mexican citizen invaded the North Korean embassy in Madrid earlier this year. According to several news media outlets, a group of men invaded the embassy and held several hostages on February 22. A U.S. arrest warrant has been issued for the alleged ringleader; a Mexican-born Korean named Adrian Hong.
The hostage takers demanded that one of the North Korean officials they were holding hostage – along with his wife and child – defect from North Korea. A criminal complaint alleges that Hong presented himself to the North Korean embassy in Madrid as a representative of an investment firm looking to invest in the country. The North Korean officials turned him away.
A couple of weeks later, Long showed up again at the embassy offering the North Korean representative a gift. While waiting for the official to arrive, Hong unlocked the gate to the embassy. This allowed several men to enter the compound. The intruders tied up four the North Korean staff with zip lock handcuffs.
According to the statements given to the Spanish authorities, one of the intruders spoke “American English”. The intruders than found the wife of the North Korean official and their eight-year-old son. They were held for four hours, according to court documents.
So Yun-sok, the senior North Korean official, told authorities that the intruders demanded that he defect from North Korea. He refused to defect, according to the official documents. Unable to convince the North Korean official to defect and with Spanish police outside, the hostage takers made their escape. The police had been notified by a North Korean woman who had managed to escape the embassy. However, the police were unable to enter the embassy because they were told by Hong, pretending to be a North Korean official, that all was well.
As an embassy, local police cannot enter the building unless invited to by an official of the diplomatic post.
Most of the invaders stole the embassy’s diplomatic vehicles and left the embassy while the police just looked on. Hong and another individual stayed at the embassy while the others got away. The last two hostage takers took an Uber from the embassy and escaped.
A few days after the take-over of the North Korean embassy, a group calling itself Free Joseon took responsibility for the invasion of the embassy. In their communique they said they were forming a North Korean rebel government in exile.
Spanish authorities have identified three U.S.-based leaders. One of them is Adrian Hong. The U.S. government is currently looking to arrest Hong on an extradition warrant from Spain. However, Hong had already approached government officials when he visited the FBI on February 27 to deliver the computer drives they had stolen from the embassy. Hong told the FBI what they had done.
Adrian Hong was one of the last two hostage takers to leave the embassy.
Hong had ordered an Uber using the alias “Oswaldo Trump”.
On their way out, the embassy invaders destroyed embassy paraphernalia and stole computer drives.
On the day that Donald Trump was in Hanoi kowtowing to Kim Jong-un, Hong delivered the stolen drives to the FBI and told them that he and a former U.S. Marine were part of the group that took over the embassy in Madrid.
On March 8, a U.S. arrest warrant was issued for Hong and Christopher Ahn, a former U.S. Marine. Hong had told the FBI about Ahn’s involvement in the embassy invasion.
In July, Ahn was arrested by U.S. officials, but Hong got away. The U.S. government believes that Hong is hiding out in Los Angeles.
Adrian Hong was born in Tijuana to a South Korean who had immigrated with his family to México. In 1991, Hong immigrated to the United States along with his family. He was seven years old. They lived in Chula Vista, California. At 18, Hong founded the NGO – Liberty in North Korea, or LINK. LINK was successfully generating an annual salary of $143,000 for Hong. Link operated an underground railroad helping North Korean defectors out of China into South Korea.
Currently, Ahn is out on a $1.3 million bail and Adrian Hong is still wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service on a Spanish arrest warrant.
The Spanish are preparing to take the case to court.