‘The Rebel and the Kingdom’ Review: Rebel With a Righteous Cause

This piece was originally published in the Wall Street Journal.


On Feb. 22, 2019, a man calling himself Matthew Chao knocked on the door of the North Korean embassy in Madrid, with a gift for the embassy’s highest-ranking official. The North Korean worker who answered the door escorted the visitor inside and went to fetch his boss. At that moment, five intruders hiding outside, led by the visitor, slipped into the building, produced handcuffs and what looked like pistols—they were actually pellet guns—and forced everyone to the ground.

The North Korean captives probably thought the vigilantes were paramilitary operatives on a mission to kidnap or kill them. But “Matthew Chao” was an activist and human-rights campaigner, not an assassin. His real name was Adrian Hong Chang, and his plan was to fake a kidnapping of North Korean diplomat So Yun-suk, who had asked for his help defecting. Mr. Hong’s life and his campaign to end the rule of a brutal regime are the subjects of Bradley Hope’s suspenseful nonfiction political thriller, “The Rebel and the Kingdom.”

Mr. Hope, a journalist, sets out on a trail of global power and intrigue, revealing a world teeming with undercover activists, missionaries, operatives and their supporters in Washington, D.C. Many pursue a daunting but noble goal: saving the people of North Korea from their despotic leader, Kim Jong Un. Mr. Hope takes us on a page-turning journey to the “underground railroad,” describing the daring escapes of North Korean refugees through China and Southeast Asia, Libya and finally Spain, where Mr. Hong’s crew broke into the North Korean embassy.

Click here to read the full piece in the Wall Street Journal.

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