Alejandro and his beloved North Korea
(This story is part of Prejudice & Politics)
Alejandro Cao de Benos has dedicated the last thirty years of his life to teaching, with an evangelical fervor, the mislead and misinformed world about the goodness of the DPRK (North Korea). His unyielding passion for this country began in his teen years, where this restless communist youth wanted nothing more than to bring about change and fight the injustice and oppression of capitalism.
Today, he is one of the world’s most iconic tankies. Wearing the questionable “special delegate” title and heading the Korean Friendship Alliance (KFA), Cao de Benos’ loyalty to North Korea is as strong as ever. So when he stumbles into another dimension and comes face-to-face with the literal embodiment of his obsession, he falls madly, deeply, and truly in love.
Everything started out normal, as most stories do. That night Alejandro did what he always did: stand in front of the mirror, twirl around, then repeat three times the phrase: North Korea has done nothing wrong. Then he hopped into bed and planted soft, respectful kisses on the portraits of the Kims at his bedside; these men were like fathers to him, after all.
But when he woke up, everything was wrong.
The moment North Korea stepped out of his house, Alejandro came bounding up the sidewalk. The other saw him and a pained cringe overtook his perfect features. It looked kind of like he was about to slapped in the face and knew it was coming, but also knew he couldn’t stop it.
If Alejandro were a dog, his tail would be swishing wildly. Swallowing hard, he mustered up just enough sanity to form words. “S-Sir, I can’t believe what’s happened. It’s such an honor and a pleasure to meet you.” He bowed deeply, letting out a soft groan. “You are more magnificent than I ever expected. My whole body is vibrating with excitement at the radiance of your Juche aura.”
Almost immediately, North Korea’s annoyance transformed into delight. He gave Alejandro a smiling so sickeningly pleasant that it could cause cavities. “Oh, Alejandro, the pleasure is all mine. I’ve been worried about you ever since I heard of the arrest.”
Alejandro waved his hand back and forth to convey that he absolutely did not want to talk about his little misadventure. “Marshal, would you call me by my Korean name?”
“I don’t think so, Alejandro.”
The man’s figurative tail dropped between his legs, but, as proven time and time again, rejection could not deter him. “Sir, there is so much I want to give you as thanks for everything you’ve done for me. I want nothing more than to fill you with my unending love. Please, wonderful and brilliant DPRK, indulge me for just one night.”
For some reason, North Korea paled. “Oh, I can’t — ”
“I don’t know how much time I have here before I have to return to my own world. I have never asked anything of you before, and this is my only request. Won’t you allow me this one pleasure?”
North Korea made a sound that was not dissimilar to a baby Tasmanian devil mewling.
Alejandro bowed so deeply that he felt something in his back snap, but he had to hide the pain and look strong for his peerless leader. “Please, have dinner with me!”
North Korea erupted with nervous laughter, then he composed himself. “Fine, I suppose I can take pity on you this once. However, there’s a rule.”
“Yes, my beautiful Fatherland?”
“Think of me as a work of art in a museum, alright? Look, don’t touch. If I even see you made an attempt — even an attempt, Alejandro — I will scream so loudly that your ears will bleed, and in the confusion I will snap every bone in your arms one by one.”
Alejandro’s face flushed. He felt fear, admiration, and perhaps something else. “Of course, of course.”
A Swedish restaurant didn’t immediately come off as “romantic,” but the list of places that North Korea was allowed to enter was getting shorter by the day; most shops even put up posters featuring his picture and the words “NOT THIS ASSHOLE.”
“You look great tonight,” Alejandro said, so flattered that his country would dress up for him.
“I look great every night, but thank you.”
Alejandro leaned forward, propped an elbow up on the table, and rested his face against his hand. He eyes were glossy, partly due to the alcohol and partly due to the dreamy haze of young love. “You know, I still have the tea set you gave me.”
North Korea took a sip of wine. “Oh, how lovely.”
“I remember the way you’d single me out at your military parades, how even in a crowd of thousands you always found me and gave me a personal salute and a wink.”
“I’ve never winked at you.”
“I remember courting you for ten years, as if I was a young boy and you were the crush I brought flowers to every day. And for ten years, you rejected me. But in 2000… It was the happiest day of my life when you finally said yes.”
North Korea smiled tightly, but it had to have been because he was holding back his joy, and not because he was annoyed. “Ah, yes, you were an IT consultant and I let you build my website, didn’t I?”
“Your first website. I was your first. Me.” There it was again, that smile. Alejandro couldn’t believe how happy his wise, respected leader was. It pumped euphoria through his veins.
“Alejandro, do you know why I like you?”
The special delegate blushed. “Why?”
“I like you because you shower me with praise and never question anything I do. Those are my favorite qualities in a person.”
“It is all completely deserved, Marshal. You are — you are my muse. My inspiration. When I was 15, I realized there was something missing. And even though I filled that hole with communism, it wasn’t enough. Spanish communism, Stalinism, Maoism? None of it could complete me. And then I met you, and I knew immediately that you were the truest and purest form of communism in the world.” Alejandro saw a genuine grin spread across his beloved general’s lips and his heart fluttered.
“Keep going, keep going.”
“What more is there to say about the great and migthy DPRK? You have been abused and misrepresented your entire life, and yet you conitnue to grow in strength every day. Your convictions are adament, your passion is unyielding, and your hair is flawless.” North Korea’s responded only by nodding again and again as he drank down the last of the wine. During the lull, Alejandro's eyes darted up. “This may sound unrelated, but are you seeing anyone?”
The other choked a little. “Victory,” he said after recovering. “Complete and total triumph is the only thing I have set my sights on. Romantic attraction means nothing to me. Nuclear deterrence, that is what I find sexy.”
“Beautiful, beautiful. Spoken like a true leader.” Alejandro started to finish off his meal when he noticed North Korea pull out his phone and snap a quick pic. “Korea, may I have the honor of being in one of your selfies?”
“No. I only want me in them because they’re for my Insta — ” he stopped himself dead in the middle of his sentence, but it was too late. Alejandro was already scrambling for his phone and tapping frantically. North Korea’s cell started buzzing, like a swarm of bees trying to melt a hornet, as the likes and comments started pouring in.
You look gorgeous… #ThirstyThursday
Your smile is as radiant as the flame of Juche #DPRKFTW
Perfect… you are the light of my life… #love
You are the Beloved Father of the Korean people. Forever DPRK! #NorthKorea #loveDPRK #Communism
Haha, cute… #ManCrushMonday
“How are you doing that so fast?” asked a gaping North Korea. In somewhat of a panic, he grabbed his debit card and swiped it on the nearby tablet.
Alejandro's head shot up. “What? Are we really leaving so soon? What about dessert? Or… did you have something special planned for when we get back to your place?” That earned another mewl. “You were hoping I’d whip up my special churros recipe, weren’t you? Marshal?!” He jumped up and took off after North Korea, who was already sprinting to his car.
North Korea decided to drop Alejandro off at the only place that made sense: Switzerland’s house.
When Alejandro climbed out of the trunk and into the chilly night air, he was crying. “I am touched, infinitely touched, that you cherish my well-being so much that you made me ride in the safest part of the car not only the way there, but also on the way back.”
North Korea hadn’t stepped out of the car, but the window was rolled down. “What can I say? Sometimes I think I’m too compassionate.”
“That’s why I love you, why I want to stay here forever with you.”
“Alejandro, let’s stop playing games,” North Korea said with what might have been a tone of subtle condescension. “I know that you use me to profit from the tours you bring in. You overcharge them for access to my country and then you pocket the money.”
Alejandro started to sweat. “You don’t really believe that, do you?!”
“If there was any genuine feelings you had for me, you’ve buried them in your wallet. But that’s okay! I’m not mad. I use you, too. It’s mutual exploitation. I like that. That’s the best kind of relationship to have.”
His head dropped. “Maybe… maybe that’s what this about then. Accepting that we’re both flawed individuals, but learning that we can still love each other regardless.”
“Okay, let me stop you right there. I am not flawed. You, you are flawed. I am perfect, you are imperfect. We are not equals, and we never will be. I don’t care what you tell people, but you do not speak for me and you do not represent me.”
“Oh, respected and feared DPRK, I know that your mean words are meant to turn me off, but they are actually achieving the opposite.”
North Korea sat in silence and stared at the steering wheel for what felt like ages. With every second that ticked by, Alejandro’s nervous heart ached harder. Finally, his glorious Fatherland (because, you know, fuck Spain) turned to him with a tender look.
“I know that we are young,” he said in a tone that matched the evenness and softness of his eyes, “and I know that you may love me, but… I just can’t be with you like this anymore.”
“You’re… you’re turning me down? Again? But, Great Korea — ”
“Don’t call my name. Don’t call my name, Alejandro.” North Korea’s Mercedes began to slowly drive away — so slowly that Alejandro would feebly jog alongside it as tears began to stream down his cheeks.
“That’s a song, isn’t it? You’re denouncing my love for you through a song? How is it that you can be so caring, yet also so cold? So loving, yet so emotionally distant? Your duality is so profound that I’m in awe!”
“Stop, please,” North Korea said as he lightly smacked Alejandro’s hands away from the window. “Just let me go.”
Tired and broken, Alejandro fell to his knees as the Mercedes got smaller and smaller against the dark horizon. He called out his beloved country’s name over and over in vain. When he realized that it was truly hopeless, he took the badge off his lapel and clutched it tightly in his fist. In that moment, it was all he had to remember his love.
Life would never be the same for Alejandro after that night. Back at home, the days slogged by and his pain extended the hours. Every time he walked into Pyongyang Cafe, he can only think of how much he wanted to see North Korea in the flesh again. But then he got an idea and made a phone call.
“Please, I need your help. A broken heart has left me but a hollow husk of the man I once was. But you, you were able to woo him almost instantly. Teach me how you did it! Teach me how you made him fall for you! Oh, thank you, Dennis. Thank you.”
I couldn’t decide if I wanted Alejandro to refer to North Korea as titles commonly given to KJU (Marshal, Supreme Leader, etc.) or to refer to him as a country (“beloved Fatherland,” “great and might DPRK”), so I went with both because why not? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯