Sources familiar with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, have reportedly appointed a veteran operative to a high-ranking position in their de-facto embassy in the country. According to the anonymous sources, this is to strengthen the espionage capabilities of the organization.
The appointment was made in March, during the time when Pyongyang was spouting nuclear threats against the United States and its allies in Asia, particularly Japan and South Korea. The sources say the decision to appoint the official, who has been a long-time agent involved in covert operations, was part of the reclusive state’s plans to be up to date on the plans of Japan so it can be mobile if things lead to war. Chongryon is an organization that serves as the de-facto embassy in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries. It also represents the pro-North Korean citizens living in Japan and part of the ethnic Korean minority and has allegedly been a source of hard cash for Pyongyang, through money sent by members who operate “pachinko” gambling parlors and real-estate businesses across Japan
According to a news report in the North’s Korean Central News Agency, Chongryon Chairman Ho Jong Man emphasized in that March meeting the need to strengthen the “powerful patriotic movement” to be true to the ideals of their leader Kim Jong Un. During that time as well, it has been reported that the group was mobilizing their supporters in Japan and South Korea in the eventuality that the situation worsened. But since then, the situation has stabilized and North Korea has been less confrontational when dealing with Japan.
[ via Wall Street Journal ]