Denmark and Sweden have said they will raise with the UN claims that North Korea was attempting to skirt sanctions with shady international arms deals after a Danish chef set up an extraordinary TV sting operation.
“The Mole: Infiltrating North Korea,” which aired on the BBC and Danish, Swedish and Norwegian national television stations on Sunday, tells the story of how Ulrich Larsen spent ten years infiltrating a Scandanavian group sympathetic to the Communisty dictatorship.
Together with Jim Latrache-Qvortrup, an actor hired to pose an investor, Mr Larsen visited Pyongyang in 2017 and signed a contract to produce military equipment and stimulant drugs with a representative of a North Korean arms factory, with several government officials present.
With the contract signed, he then travelled to meet North Koreans in Uganda to inspect a proposed site for an arms factory on an island in Lake Victoria, and also to Jordon to meet a trader for talks on a sanctions-busting oil deal.
The Danish and Swedish governments vowed to raise the country’s “extensive violations of sanctions” at the UN Sanctions Committee. “We take the content of the documentary very seriously as it raises a number of deeply problematic questions and concerns,” the foreign ministries of Sweden and Denmark said in a joint statement.
Mr Larsen, who is unable to work as a chef due to a chronic pancreas inflammation, said he had approached the Korean Friendship Association (KFA) in Denmark after The Red Chapel, the 2009 documentary by the Mole’s producer Mads Brügger, made him curious about the regime.
“I started the project to pass the time when I was on sickness benefits,” he told Danish state broadcaster DR. “But when I got started, I became curious. ‘Is this possible?’ ‘Is this real?’.”
In 2013, his involvement paid off when Alejandro Cao de Benós, the Spanish lerader of a parallel group, who presented himself as “the Gatekeeper of North Korea”, contacted him, informing him that he there were three potential investment projects available if Larsen could find investors with more than 50,000 euros to spend.
It was then that Mr Brügger hired Mr Latrache-Qvortrup, who before becoming an actor had served in the French Foreign Legion and then spent eight years in prison for dealing drugs to Denmark’s rich and famous.
Mr Larsen kept his double life secret from his family.
“My wife was never told at all that what I was doing could be dangerous. Not at all,” he said. “I can see that it’s selfish, but if I’d told her, I probably would have been told not to come home.
One of the tensest moments came at a meeting in Madrid in 2016, when Mr Cao De Benós brought a device that detects hidden cameras.
Mr Larsen told DR that he was aware that there might be repercussions.
“There is no doubt that some people are going to be pretty angry. I have pissed all over some of these people and lied incredibly. And it’s easy to travel around the world, so if they now decide that I should be taught a lesson…”
The film’s producer Peter Engel told the Telegraph on Tuesday that Mr Larsen is currently in a “safe house”.