Wednesday, 20 September 2017
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koreaSpainshArrestThe only known westerner working for North Korea has been arrested in Spain on Tuesday on suspicion of trafficking weapons.

Alejandro Cao de Benós was detained by police in Tarragona, Catalonia.

A second, unnamed man was also arrested in Murcia.

The operation was mounted by the Guardia Civil in Madrid who would not elucidate anything more about its ongoing investigation.

Cao de Benós, 42, from Barcelona, has said that he is the honorary special delegate for North Korea’s Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries.

As such, he promotes the merits of the hermit republic and travels there frequently, sometimes spending months working as a meeting organiser, translator and a minder for foreign visitors.

Back in his native Spain, in 2000 he became the founder of the Korea Friendship Association.

"I consider myself as [much] Spanish as Korean — 50-50. This [Spain] is my country of birth, and North Korea is my country of adoption," he told NPR radio in 2013.

Cao de Benos, who also goes by the Korean name Cho Son Il, which means "Korea is one", became fascinated with North Korea when he was a teenager coming to terms with the realisation that his family’s fortune had been lost. His grandfather had made a series of bad investments, plunging his family from nobility to workers.