Korean Friendship Association
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Korean Friendship Association logo
|Purpose||Official government cultural liaison agency for North Korea|
|Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez|
|Remarks||Hymn: Song of National Defense|
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. It has official representatives in 28 countries, including Spain, the U.S., Norway, Canada, Brazil, Russia, China, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Israel, Poland.
Compared with other North Korea friendship associations, KFA is more radical.
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 objectives of the KFA are to promote the well-being of all members and to promote friendship between members of the KFA worldwide.
The main objectives of the KFA are:
- 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 is the largest friendship association with North Korea. 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.
The national associations under KFA do not receive official funding and operate "as far less than consulates, just slightly more than fan clubs". 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.
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 [third-party source needed]
NK News describes KFA as "one of the DPRK's primary tools of soft power within its global propaganda network".
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.
A 2015 investigation by NK News found the commercial practices and integrity of the KFA to be in question.
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.
- "Official KFA Hymn Song of National Defence". KFA Official Twitter Account. April 22, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
- James, Alexander (29 January 2012). "'Useful Idiots'? The curious case of Britain's pro-North Korean Community". NK News. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
- "Capitalist credentials: N. Korea sympathizer group's huge profit on access to country". NK News - North Korea News. Retrieved 2016-01-13.
- Nylander, Johan (25 February 2014). "The Westerners Who Love North Korea". The Diplomat. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
- Enzo Reale (February 7, 2010). "Alejandro Cao de Benós Interview Part 2". One Free Korea. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
- Gearey, Jeann (3 January 2008). "Postcard. North Korea". Time. Retrieved 27 May 2016. (subscription required (. ))
- Harlan, Chico (March 2, 2012). "N. Korea finds a purpose for small group of 'friends'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
- Official homepage
- Scofield, David (February 3, 2005). "Kim Jong-il's 'useful idiots' in the West". Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- Capitalist credentials: N. Korea sympathizer group's huge profit on access to country
Interviews with the KFA
- "I Will Be A Soldier of Kim Jong Il": A profile from Korean Central Television on Alejandro Cao de Benos - from July 22, 2005
- Alejandro Cao de Benós Interview by Enzo Reale - from February 7, 2010
- A National Public Radio interview with Mr Cao de Benos