Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Cao de Bénos and the second or maternal family name is de Les y Pérez.
Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez
조선일
Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez in Pyongyang in 2012.JPG
Picture of Alejandro Cao taken in front of the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang, June 2012.
President of the Korean Friendship Association
Assumed office
8 August 2000
Preceded by Position established by himself.
Personal details
Born 1974
Reus, Catalonia, Spain
Political party Workers' Party of Korea
Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez
Chosŏn'gŭl 조선일
Hancha 朝鮮一
Revised Romanization Jo Seon Il
McCune–Reischauer Cho Sŏn-il

Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez (born 1974) is, according to himself, the Spanish Special Delegate of North Korea's Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries. No mention of his position can be found on official government pages.

He is also the founder, president, and only salaried member of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA).[1] All official government and Ministerial sites of North Korea have the .kp domain and given the whois record for KFA´s website points towards it being the personally owned domain of Alejandro Cao de Benos there is doubt about its claim to be the " official web page of DPR of Korea " and thus Coas claims of his actual status in DPRK´s hierarchy .[1][2]

He has been an advocate of North Korea since 1990. His Korean name, Cho Son-il ("Korea is One"), is self given but not considered legal as he travels using his Spanish Passport.[1] He has lived in Tarragona and Barcelona (Spain), working as an IT consultant.[3] A single, unnamed detractor called him a "'perfect example of the useful idiot.'"[3]

Korean Friendship Assocation activities[edit]

Cao founded the Korean Friendship Association in 2000, purchasing and establishing his privately owned domain name which whilst claiming to be officially sanctioned is in fact privately owned and registered in his name.[1][4] It includes a media section and a web-shop where badges, North Korean music and other items can be bought online. Goods purchased are sent from Spain.

Cao travels regularly to Pyongyang, assisting with press pass application and acting as a translator for the foreign press (constantly under supervision of local authorities) and helping to schedule business meetings. Cao acts for a commission as an intermediary in such meetings and in line with having no official paid employment is not paid any base salary .[1][3] He has written numerous articles on matters relating to the political situation in the Korean Peninsula, dissemination of state propaganda as well as giving press interviews. Cao is one of the few foreigners to claim to follow the North Korean party line, he continues as president of his company the Korean Friendship Association. Cao is featured in the documentaries Friends of Kim and The Propaganda Game.

Criticism[edit]

Cao de Benós has also received widespread criticism from the Western press for, among other things, trying to restrict the freedom of expression of journalists from outside countries. He has expelled members of the "Association of Friendship with Korea" for "disrespect".[5] 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.[6] Once in Pyongyang, Alejandro Cao broke into 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.[5] Cao de Benós 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.

Whilst he is authorized to "promote and develop cultural relations" Cao de Benós has been criticized by his peers for, it is alleged constantly representing himself as a North Korean government employee and KFA as an official North Korean Entities neither of which are true.[1][7]

Despite lauding North Korea’s socialist credentials Cao and his Korean Friendship Association (KFA) is charging significantly marked-up fees for bringing film-makers, artists and tourists to the country, sources familiar with the organization and its operations told NK News.[1][7]

Cao de Benós has been criticized by peers in the Workers party of Korea and Korean press for overstating his role in North Korean Society and furthermore for receiving payments for licenses to undertake activities in North Korea when it subsequently emerged there was no license issued for these activities. Many see this as a natural consequence of his overstating his position and paradoxical capitalistic intentions. [1][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Investigation By South Korean Media of Alajandro Cao de Benos". 
  2. ^ "| ICANN WHOIS". whois.icann.org. Retrieved 2016-01-14. 
  3. ^ a b c "His dear leader: Meet North Korea's secret weapon - an IT consultant from Spain". The Independent. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  4. ^ The Official Webpage of The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
  5. ^ a b This incident and Alejandro's acknowledgement of responsibility can be seen in the "Friends of Kim" documentary
  6. ^ Korea Joongang Daily, ed. (April 17, 2005). "For love of Dear Leader: Spaniard’s mission is to show North to world". Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "prominent-pro-north-korea-figure-denounces-kfa-president-alejandro-cao-de-benos".