What’s the toughest PR challenge you can imagine? Representing an institution charged with sheltering child abusers? Defending a multinational corporation for mistakes that cost others their lives and livelihoods? How about presenting the very best of a murderous dictatorship to an outside world that firmly rejects every attempt to make nice?
We were fascinated by today’s Christian Science Monitor profile of the man Kim Jong-un hired to perform public relations duties for the People’s Republic of North Korea. That still-mysterious country is one of the few things on the planet Earth that remains less popular than the Kardashian family.
His name is Alejandro Cao de Benós, he’s a Spanish man with “aristocratic roots”, and his official blog features a lot of stories about “Corea del Norte”. What else? He appears to have been an enthusiastic North Korean sympathizer for some time, and as the only non-Korean employee of the nation’s foreign ministry, it’s his job to travel around the world, speak to various media outlets and try (in vain) to convince people that Kim Jong-un isn’t as bad as we all seem to think he is. Cao de Benós’s only real messaging strategy is to insist that “everything you’ve heard is a lie” and that every supposedly bad thing North Korea does is in direct response to an aggressive action from the West (aka America).
His big challenge lies in letting everyone know that not a single citizen of North Korea starves, serves time in forced labor camps, suffers from crippling poverty and malnutrition or lives in constant fear of the government despite overwhelming evidence and testimony to the contrary. In fact, he says, no one ever has any desire to leave the Communist utopia, so they wouldn’t do it “even if they could.”
Freaked out yet? Check out Zach Campbell‘s full profile. After watching the fascinating documentary A State of Mind (which almost certainly portrays North Korean life in an overly flattering light), we can say with confidence that Alejandro Cao de Benós is a shameless liar with no real concern for ethics. But he certainly has an interesting job, doesn’t he?
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