Considering how vehemently anti-West the North Korean government is, it’s difficult to imagine a foreigner working in Pyongyang.
But there is in fact one, and only one, Westerner who works for the secretive regime. His name is Alejandro Cao de Benós.
The 42-year-old aristocrat from Catalonia, Spain, is the president of the Korean Friendship Association, an unusual pro-Pyongyang organization that boasts some 15,000 members worldwide and official delegates in 38 countries, according to its official website. He is also a special delegate of North Korea's Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries.
While speaking to The Local’s Spanish edition in a recent interview, Cao de Benós shared his ever-optimistic view of the hermit kingdom, and explained how North Koreans and Latinos have a lot in common.
"I would say that the North Koreans are the 'Latinos' of Asia,” he said. “Compared to my Japanese, Chinese or Thai friends, Koreans show their feelings (see video below), like hugging family members and friends, crying, laughing and being quite expressive. They also like to stay up late at night, talking and drinking.”
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Cao de Benós added he feels “Catalan and Spanish by birth and North Korean by adoption." He has even adopted a Korean name, Cho Son-il ("Korea is one").
In a previous interview with IB Times, Cao de Benós stated he spends three months in Spain and four in North Korea and works for the government for free.
It’s not just North Korea or Asian culture that inspires the Spaniard, though. Cao de Benos admires North Korean leaders as much as he loves the reclusive country and its people.
He said he has met the former leader Kim Jong-il as well as his son, current dictator Kim Jong-un.
"They are servants of the people, very humble and hardworking," Cao de Benós added.
"While in other countries you find a consul or an ambassador who believes he is kind of a living God, in the DPRK it’s the other way around. The higher you go in the government, the more humble the behavior."
This is not something a lot of people in the West can easily relate to with all the stories of Kim carrying out executions, starvation and other human rights abuses coming out of North Korea.
But Cao de Benós says all of that is propaganda against the regime, adding 95% of the information reported in Western media about North Korea is false.
“That if you don’t do this or that you will be jailed, that we have concentration camps, that we have public executions, that there is only one hairstyle, that we kill generals with mortars and anti-aircraft guns, that you cannot speak your mind or have an opinion, that you do not have rest or entertainment.”