Korean Friendship Association

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Korean Friendship Association
Korean Friendship Association.png
Korean Friendship Association logo
Abbreviation KFA
Formation November 2000 (2000-11)
Purpose Official government cultural liaison agency for North Korea
Location
  • Spain
Region served
World
Official language
English
President
Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez
Website www.korea-dpr.com/kfa.html
Remarks Hymn: Song of National Defense[1]

The Korean Friendship Association (Spanish: Asociación de Amistad con Corea) is a Spain-based friendship association with North Korea. The KFA was established in November 2000.[2] It has official representatives in 28 countries, including Spain, the U.S., Norway, Canada, Brazil, Russia, China, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Israel, Poland.

Its president, Spanish citizen Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez, is the only person paid a salary. Fees collected by the KFA are generally deposited in accounts in his name around Europe.[3]

Line[edit]

Compared with other North Korea friendship associations, KFA is more radical.[4]

The KFA pages provides DPRK related material, including tourism tips and political essays, and it is possible to hear views from a DPRK point of view. The KFA Forum site is hosted and administered in Europe and gives links to Korean language teaching sites.

The KFA denies violations of human rights in North Korea and disputes the existence of North Korean concentration camps.[5]

The objectives of the KFA are to promote the well-being of all members and to promote friendship between members of the KFA worldwide.

Objectives[edit]

The main objectives of the KFA are:[6]

  • Show the reality of the DPR Korea to the world.
  • Defend the independence and socialist construction in the DPR of Korea.
  • Learn from the culture and history of the Korean People - Work for the peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula.

KFA organizes travel delegations to North Korea.[7] Travel is according to experts a primary motivation of membership in KFA: partakers in trips are offered privileged service.[8]

Structure[edit]

KFA is the largest friendship association with North Korea.[4] It operates in 120 countries. There is an Official Delegate in each country. KFA is licensed by the North Korean government and is well-funded and supported. The organization is coordinated well "to a certain degree", according to NK News.[2]

The national associations under KFA do not receive official funding and operate "as far less than consulates, just slightly more than fan clubs".[8] They do not have many functions to support the government of North Korea: they do not support the regime monetarily and do not gather intelligence.[8]

Official Delegates are responsible for the activities in his/her country and secretaries appointed by the delegates. Above the Official Delegates, the "International Organization Committee" consisting of the President, the International Counselor and an International Organization Secretary who control and direct the activities of the KFA worldwide.

  • President: Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez
  • International organization secretary: Mana Sapmak
  • International communication secretary: Carlos Luna
  • International commissar: Trever Aritz [9][third-party source needed]

Criticism[edit]

NK News describes KFA as "one of the DPRK's primary tools of soft power within its global propaganda network".[2]

David Scofield in the Asia Times Online in 2005 calling members of KFA "useful idiots",[10] described the organization as follows:

The group's activities include "information" seminars where the enlightened benevolence of Kim's rule is championed, all part of its "alternative" view of the North. The ragged wretched displays of poverty and starvation are edited out and the voice of North Koreans not in the direct employ of Kim Jong-il are conspicuously absent. In place of uncomfortable reality, the KFA offers vacation photos of "their" North Korea taken during recent, state supported visits, complete with bowling, golf, amusement parks and Karaoke with young female party members. Members write glowing pieces, oblations celebrating Kim Jong-il's wise rule. No starving people, torture, summary execution, penury or despair in the Korean Friendship Association's North Korea. Just golf, great meals and evenings in the company of Kim Jong-il's beauties.[10]

A 2015 investigation by NK News found the commercial practices and integrity of the KFA to be in question.[11]

According to Hazel Smith of Cranfield University, KFA associations have lost much of their original role as part of an international socialist movement. Today, they are reduced to serving domestic purposes of North Korea.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Official KFA Hymn Song of National Defence". KFA Official Twitter Account. April 22, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c James, Alexander (29 January 2012). "'Useful Idiots'? The curious case of Britain's pro-North Korean Community". NK News. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  3. ^ "Capitalist credentials: N. Korea sympathizer group's huge profit on access to country". NK News - North Korea News. Retrieved 2016-01-13. 
  4. ^ a b Nylander, Johan (25 February 2014). "The Westerners Who Love North Korea". The Diplomat. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  5. ^ Enzo Reale (February 7, 2010). "Alejandro Cao de Benós Interview Part 2". One Free Korea. Retrieved January 30, 2014. 
  6. ^ http://www.korea-dpr.com/kfa.html
  7. ^ Gearey, Jeann (3 January 2008). "Postcard. North Korea". Time. Retrieved 27 May 2016. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ a b c d Harlan, Chico (March 2, 2012). "N. Korea finds a purpose for small group of 'friends'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  9. ^ Official homepage
  10. ^ a b Scofield, David (February 3, 2005). "Kim Jong-il's 'useful idiots' in the West". Retrieved December 28, 2013. 
  11. ^ Capitalist credentials: N. Korea sympathizer group's huge profit on access to country

External links[edit]

Interviews with the KFA[edit]

Articles on the KFA[edit]