Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (July 2010)|
|Alejandro Cao de Bénos de Les y Pérez
|Picture of Alejandro Cao taken infront of the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang, June 2012.|
|President of the Korean Friendship Association|
8 August 2000
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Political party||Workers' Party of Korea|
Korean People's Army
|Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez|
|Revised Romanization||Jo Seon Il|
Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez (born 1974) is the Special Delegate of the DPRK's Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and president of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA).
He has been an advocate of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) since 1990. His activities are occasionally mentioned in bulletins from the Korean Central News Agency. His Korean name, Cho Son-il ("Korea is One"), is officially recognized by North Korea. He has lived in Tarragona and Barcelona (Spain), working as an IT consultant.
Official activities in North Korea
Cao founded the Korean Friendship Association in 2000, setting up an officially approved DPRK website. It includes a media section and a web-shop where badges, North Korean music, and other items can be bought on-line.
In 2002, Cao became the first foreigner allowed to work on behalf of the North Korean authorities in an official capacity, thus fulfilling a dream he had had since he was a teenager. This required that North Korean law had to be changed. He was given a North Korean passport. His official assignment is as a "special representative" of the Foreign Ministry.
Cao travels regularly to Pyongyang, organizing international delegations for the foreign press (constantly under supervision), cultural exchanges and business meetings, which entail working with DPRK officials in many ministries in both cultural and diplomatic affairs. He has written numerous articles on matters relating to the political situation in the Korean Peninsula, as well as giving interviews for television, newspapers, radio and internet press. As one of the few foreigners to devoutly follow the DPRK party line, he continues to be greatly involved with the Korean Friendship Association as well as with North Korean international relations. Cao is prominently featured in the documentary "Friends of Kim".
Positions and awards
According to the KFA, Cao has received several North Korean awards, including the North Korean Friendship Medal from the DPRK's Supreme People's Assembly, diplomas from the Central Committee of Radio and Television of the DPRK and the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, and a personal gift from Kim Jong Il.
Cao de Benos has also received widespread criticism from the Western press for, among other things, trying to restrict the freedom of expression of journalists from third countries. He has expelled members of the "Association of Friendship with Korea" for "disrespect". He has also been accused of threatening and intimidating journalists critical of North Korea. When Andrew Morse of ABC News visited the country in 2004, invited by the Association, he was accused of using sensationalist language to describe Kochang farm cooperatives. Once in Pyongyang, Alejandro Cao broke in to and searched through Morse's hotel room, confiscated his tapes, damaged his laptop and forced him to sign an apologetic letter in order to leave the country. Cao de Benos has also tried to disrupt the work of other NGOs operating in North Korea by complaining about their work or their portrayal of problems in North Korea.
- His dear leader: Meet North Korea's secret weapon - an IT consultant from Spain (The Independent)
- The Official Webpage of The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
- Villarino, Ángel (April 24, 2010). "Un aristócrata en la corte de Kim Jong II". La Razón (in Spanish) (Madrid, Spain). Archived from the original on 2010-09-27. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- http://www.korea-dpr.com/romenov.htm[dead link]
- Korea Joongang Daily, ed. (April 17, 2005). "For love of Dear Leader: Spaniard’s mission is to show North to world". Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- This incident and Alejandro's acknowledgement of responsibility can be seen in the "Friends of Kim" documentary (English)
- Interviews and conferences