Pyongyang Cafe – A Small Piece of North Korea on the Spanish Coast

Entering North Korea is not the easiest or safest thing to do for foreigners, but curious tourists can now experience a small piece of North Korean culture in the Mediterranean city of Tarragona, where a small bar founded to promote Kim Jong-Un’s totalitarian regime recently opened.

Alejandro Cao de Benos, the founder of Pyongyang Cafe, is the only Westerner to occupy a post in the North Korean regime, even if it is only honorary. A firm believer in communism, he became interested in North Korea after the fall of the Soviet Union, which coincided with meeting some North Korean families in Madrid. He started traveling to the isolated Asian country, managed to meet with the late Kim Jong-Il, and in 2002 he was appointed special delegate for international cultural relations by Pyongyang. The title is not official, but he has taken his mission very seriously. Cao de Benos, a.k.a. “Cho Sun-il” (which translates as “Korea is one”) went on to found the Korean Friendship Association which currently has delegates in 30 countries around the world.

As someone who regularly appears in the Spanish media to defend North Korea against what he calls Western propaganda and manipulation, Cho Sun-il decided to open Pyongyang Cafe as a way to offer people an authentic North Korean experience. “We want to break with all the myths, manipulation,” he says. “And as not many people can go to Korea, because it’s complicated and far, they can come to our cafe.”


Photo: Pyongyang Cafe/Facebook

The small bar has a very clear North Korean theme. The bar is painted in the colors of the country’s flag, the walls are adorned with socialist propaganda posters brought all the way from Pyongyang, and there’s even a small bookshelf of works written by leaders of the Kim dynasty, which has ruled North Korea with an iron fist since 1948.


Photo: Pyongyang Cafe/Facebook

North Korean establishments offering traditional food and drinks have popped up all over Asia in recent years, but Alejandro Cao de Benos says Pyongyang Cafe is the only such place in the Western world. A similar cafe opened in Amsterdam in 2012, but was closed down after only a few months. He hopes his endeavor will be much more successful, because it’s authentic.


Photo: Pyongyang Cafe/Facebook

Pyongyang Cafe has been receiving about 35 visitors a day on average, but Cho Sun-il expects that number to grow once more people learn of its existence. He has big plans for it anyway, hoping to eventually turn it into a cultural center complete with talks on gastronomy and tradition, film screenings or lectures. Sounds like a blast…



Interestingly enough, Alejandro Cao de Benos  is of of aristocratic Catalan heritage, the scion of the “barons of Lés, counts of Argelejo and marquises of Rosalmonte”, but rebelled against his origins and became a radical leftist. He is now seen as an unofficial ambassador of one of the most criticized nations in the world.

via Yahoo News/AFP