Ulrich “The Mole” Larsen (@UlrichTheMole) is a family man from Denmark who spent 10 years undercover in North Korea infiltrating its illicit arms trade. [This is part one of a two-part episode. Part two can be found here!]
What We Discuss with Ulrich “The Mole” Larsen:
- How did a young Danish chef and family man wind up working undercover in North Korea to disrupt its illicit arms trade?
- Why would the repressive regime that runs North Korea trust a young Danish chef and welcome him with open arms?
- How some low-status Westerners cozy up to the North Korean regime for the chance to boss around other Westerners visiting the country and the illusionary rush of power it gives them.
- The natural qualities and easygoing talents that made Ulrich such an ideal mole in a place where every move is surveilled and analyzed by invisible eyes from every nook and shadow.
- Why operating clandestinely in the DPRK is no job for a teetotaler.
- And much more…
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Did you hear the one about the retired chef who joined a communist club in Denmark and eventually tricked North Korean arms dealers into offering him illegal weapons and methamphetamines?
If not, listen to this episode in its entirety to take in the wild story of Ulrich “The Mole” Larsen and a colorful cast of characters that make this the kind of yarn you can’t spin from the mere wool of human imagination. Listen, learn, and enjoy! [This is part one of a two-part episode. Part two can be found here!]
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Thanks, Ulrich “The Mole” Larsen!
If you enjoyed this session with Ulrich “The Mole” Larsen, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- The Mole: Undercover in North Korea | IMDb
- Ulrich “The Mole” Larsen | Website
- Ulrich “The Mole” Larsen | Instagram
- Ulrich “The Mole” Larsen | Twitter
- Ulrich “The Mole” Larsen | Facebook
- Going to North Korea: Part One | Stereo Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- Going to North Korea: Part Two | Stereo Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- Jack Barsky | Deep Undercover with a KGB Spy in America Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Jack Barsky | Deep Undercover with a KGB Spy in America Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- Mads Brügger | Twitter
- Red Chapel | IMDb
- Korean Friendship Association | Wikipedia
- We Hung Out With the President of the Danish North Korean Friendship Association | Vice
- North Korea Says Danish Documentary on Alleged Sanctions-Busting ‘Fabricated’ | Reuters
- Giant Statues of North Korean Leaders Unveiled | BBC News
- Friends of Kim | IMDb
- The Spanish Aristocrat Who Works for North Korea | Parallels, NPR
- Charles Ryu | Confessions of a North Korean Escape Artist Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Charles Ryu | Confessions of a North Korean Escape Artist Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- ‘Every Boy’s Dream Is to Be James Bond’: Inside North Korea with ‘Mr. James’ and ‘The Mole’ | The Guardian
- Jim Latrache-Qvortrup | Instagram
- The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage | GQ
- Jordan Outs Oil Smuggler in Undercover North Korea Film as ‘Infamous Swindler’ | NK Pro
Ulrich “The Mole” Larsen | Undercover in North Korea Part One (Episode 527)
Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:03] Ulrich Larsen: And then suddenly, I saw Mr. Kang with my camera, and I was like, "Oh sh*t, he's going to check it out now." But he gave it to his colleague and said, "You have to film Jim and Ulrich and the people here, so I can bring it home to the people of Mr. James. So they can see we had a great time in North Korea." And I was like, "Great, now they really trust me." And they took it many times, filming me and, yeah, practically, filming themselves doing crimes. Oh, it's insane.
[00:00:33] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts and entrepreneurs, spies, and psychologists, even the occasional arms dealer, billionaire investor, or legendary Hollywood director. Each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:01:03] If you're new to the show, or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about it, we now have episode starter packs. These are collections of your favorite episodes organized by popular topics. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on this show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started or to help somebody else gets started. Of course, we always appreciate that.
[00:01:23] Today, he spent 10 years undercover, infiltrating Korea's illicit arms trade along with some communist sympathizer groups. I'm not sure how much of an intro I need for this one. I mean, how much do I need to sell all you guys on this story? Retired chef joins communist club in Denmark and eventually tricks North Korean arms dealers and offering him a sh*tload of illegal weapons and methamphetamine, and it only gets more insane from there. So if you like earlier episodes and stories about North Korea and my travels there or if you just like a wild tale here and there, I think you're probably going to get a kick out of this two-part series here with Ulrich, The Mole.
[00:01:58] And if you're wondering how I managed to book all of these great authors, thinkers, and creators and undercover chefs every single week, it's because of my network. I'm teaching you how to build your network for free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. No payment. I don't need your freaking credit card numbers. You guys wouldn't fall for that crap, anyway. Would you? By the way, most of the guests on the show, they subscribed to the course. They contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:02:23] Now, here we go with Ulrich, The Mole.
[00:02:28] Watching the film, I thought, okay, this guy is an undercover in North Korea. He's using stuff that you would use to make a movie if I were to go to a local shop and buy the stuff, and I'm thinking, man, if they pat you down, you are totally screwed. Like you've got this battery pack strapped to your back. You get this like elastic strap around you. That they're going to feel that holds the batteries in the microphones. You've got a wire going up your shirt. I mean, that must've made you nervous.
[00:02:55] Ulrich Larsen: I didn't brought that to North Korea actually. I only did that when I was outside North Korea, because I was quite aware that if they find that kind of stuff on me, things could be quite dangerous. But I actually got — what do you call it? A 4K camera with me. And I thought it was a bit too much to bring it in North Korea the second time where we get all the gun and weapons deals and stuff. But, when I came to the airport, they opened my bags, of course. And then I got problems actually, because the man was like, "Oh, camera and microphone and computer and hard drives." And I was like, "Well, I'm a friend of your country and, you know, try to blah, blah, blah." And he'd insisted to speak with a high ranking officer. But then Mr. Kang came to me and he said, "Well, what's the problem?" And I said, "Well, the camera and stuff." And he was, "Well, all right, do you have your medal on and your badge?" I said, "Yes, of course." "Show it to him." And I just opened my jacket and the man was like just bowing to me, "Sorry. Welcome to North Korea again, Mr. Larsen."
[00:03:57] Jordan Harbinger: So explain this a little bit, Mr. Kang is a tour guide and we'll explain a little bit more about him because he turns out to not just be a tour guide. I've been to North Korea four times. I talk about it extensively on the show. So people who've heard those episodes, they know a little bit about how this works, but Mr. Kang, your tour guide, meets you at the airport. What's this medal that you have? That made the guy kind of say, "Ooh shoot, this is who I'm talking to, let me back off." What kind of metal do you?
[00:04:20] Ulrich Larsen: Well, I was there for a celebration in 2012 of President Kim Il-sung and at that time I brought a very small camera with me, telling them that I would like to film the Danish association in North Korea and after four or five days, Mr. Kang just loved me because I was honest to him, he felt. And I loved the leaders and I bowed correctly and I did all the things I knew I had to do to be accepted. And after the celebration on the 15th of April 2012, six persons were asked to come with Mr. Kang and another official. And we go to the parliament and then we had the medals for — I can't remember what they told me. It was something like, it was a friendship medal of first degree because I respected the country and the leaders. And I will do a lot of films for YouTube and stuff to tell the world how the real North Korea is. And that was just lucky for me to be accepted for Mr. Kang that fast. And it really paid off when I came back because when they see a foreigner with a medal on, they know that this man or woman is good for our country. So he just literally just backed up and said, "Welcome to North Korea," and just closed my suitcase again very nice and handed over to me and gave me my jacket.
[00:05:37] Jordan Harbinger: That's really something else. I know some friends of mine have gotten those medals just from going on tours several times and being kind of in the right place at the right time and making friends with somebody at the bar and they're like, "Hey, you've been here a bunch. You're bringing tourists to the regime. That's good. That's money for us. Here's this medal." I don't know if it's the same as what you got. It might be like a little bit of a pat on the head version of what you've got compared to — given what you've done. Although now I'm pretty sure they want that medal back, but we'll get into why that is in a second here.
[00:06:07] Ulrich Larsen: I don't go back with myself. That's for sure.
[00:06:09] Jordan Harbinger: Well, no, I mean, they might come and take it from me, but I'll ask you about that.
[00:06:14] Ulrich Larsen: It's in the bank. It's in the bank's box.
[00:06:16] Jordan Harbinger: It's in the bank. Okay. Yeah, they can go get it from the bank. Why infiltrate the North Korean arms trade in the first place? Like, yes, the North Korean regime is evil and needs to be exposed in my opinion. I wonder if you share that, but what else? I mean, why do it?
[00:06:31] Ulrich Larsen: Well, the long story short it's that when I was a kid, my dad worked on the ferry that sails from Denmark to Germany. And sometimes he was with the ferry who goes to West Germany and other days he was sailing from another part of Denmark to East Germany. When we go to West Germany, I could practically walk down the ladder from the ferry and speak with the German police. And they gave me a can of Coke or a hotdog or something. And I speak German, so it was quite easy for me to speak with them. But when we came to East Germany and I went with my dad at work, I was told by my dad and the staff on the ferry, "Please do not attempt to go down from this ferry because they are communists. They will practically kidnap you, shoot you." Try really to scare me not to go in because they have seen what happened to people who try to defect. And that way they've put something in me.
[00:07:23] And then on one of the trips back and forth, I met an East German boy and we exchanged addresses and started writing to each other. And then my dad said, "Well, we, we have to go and visit them if possible. And we could come to East Germany and visit them." And for me at 11, 12, 13 years old to see that regimen, the Stasi and the whole East German communist system, how the people on the street, they didn't speak with each other. They just stood in a long queue to buy a piece of bread. In the supermarket there could be four cans of beans or vegetables and practically nothing. And I really thought a lot about that. And then all the changes came in Germany and they were together again.
[00:08:07] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Reunification East and West Germany rejoined. Yes.
[00:08:10] Ulrich Larsen: And then later on in my life, I just mass boycotted the Red Chapel when I saw that and it just got me back to my childhood about a country that was separated because of a war. And I start to dig a bit in this. And I came up to Danish Friendship Association supporting North Korea. And I find that really, really ridiculous.
[00:08:33] When you haven't met people, you can say that is ridiculous. So I started writing with the chairman, Anders Kristensen, and he invited me to an open meeting in the association. And at the same time I wrote an email to Mads Brügger..
[00:08:47] Jordan Harbinger: Mads Brügger, the way you say it is proper — Mads Brügger is a director who directed the movie, The Mole, but also another movie about North Korea, which is kind of like a satirical film. So when you saw his film, the Red Chapel, you thought, "Wow, this kind of reminds me of East Germany and West Germany, how they were separated and how kind of oppressed East Germans were." So that's what got you interested. You find this club, the KFA Korean Friendship or Friends Association, which is like Danish fans or it's all over the world, but it's in your local instance, your local chapter is Danish fans of Kim Il-sung Kim Jong-un, the whole Kim dynasty in North Korea, which is mind blowing, right? Because you live in a very prosperous, free country where people are not starving. You can't get in trouble, really for political activities. And these are people that are probably like a lot of them are on social benefits, like welfare, and they're going, "Oh, down with the tyranny of capitalism. Let's go to the socialist paradise. That is North Korea," where you can get shot for folding a freaking newspaper.
[00:09:46] Ulrich Larsen: To be with those people, the first time, you know, it was really like, I was in a comedy movie because what they say and what I knew from, of course, what I studied myself was so crazy. That the best place on earth to live in is North Korea because the leader cares for you. He gives you food. He gives you clothes. He gives your work, school, education, everything. And I wrote then to Mads Brügger that I was a very big fan of his movie, the first one, the Red Chapel. And I even wrote, "If you at any time consider doing a new movie out about North Korea, I'll be glad to help you." And I got a long email back from him about North Korea and that he never wanted to, and he never could go back. But he said, "Well, keep me posted from the meeting and let's see what happens."
[00:10:31] And then I slowly started to participate in those meetings, learning the things about people well, and actually after two meetings, they invited me to the board meetings. And later on, they wanted me to be a member of the board because I was so young compared to them. It's like Plus 50, 60 years old at that point. And the youngest one at that one was 34 and then I came in 33 or something. They just took me with open arms because you see, this is a young man. He could literally take the future for us.
[00:11:01] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:11:01] Ulrich Larsen: Just thinking back on all those things, it's crazy.
[00:11:04] Jordan Harbinger: It's cringy, right? It's cringy because you're like with these — and you can sort of see in the film, but I've also seen some KFA meeting footage from other places. And it really is kind of like, I would imagine — I'm trying not to, I don't want to throw anybody into a negative stereotype here, but it's kind of like you imagine these are the people that do hobbies, where they stand outside and look at airplanes and then write down the number of the airplane. And they're doing that for like 10 hours a day, seven days a week, or train spotting, or they play lots and lots and lots of video games and never come out of their basement or get obsessed with cartoons, but they're 60 years old. I mean like things like that. And those are the people that you see at these meetings.
[00:11:43] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. And many times we have to watch a movie, which the chairman got from Korea. He's been traveling there for, I think, 40 times now.
[00:11:51] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:11:51] Ulrich Larsen: And every time he brings back DVDs back, or cassettes, and there was a meeting where people can come and see how North Korea is the propaganda way. And it was like three hours praising Kim Il-sung by what he did for the country. The funniest part is that the chairman, Anders Kristensen, he can sit for five hours watching things like this. I went to the movie with him, the cinema, as you're saying in English, to watch a film about North Korea. And at one point in the movie you see from the Kim Il-sung Square on a parade, he was sitting down and then suddenly in this parade, he was standing up applauding and screaming and clapping in the cinema.
[00:12:31] Like in his mind, I think at that point he was back in North Korea and I was literally just looking up at him and, you know, start looking around and just like, "Oh my God." But that's how he is. If you ask him questions, which are for him, the bad questions, he is so clever to get around them and give you an answer that you didn't expect it. That just tells us that he's crazy.
[00:12:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. This is the chairman of the Korean Friends Association in Denmark. And he's just — if you've been to North Korea 40 times, you're either an awesome agent for Danish Intelligence or you are so freaking brainwashed that there's no coming back. And it sounds like it's a little bit of the latter, right? It's not the — yeah, although who knows, plot twist, maybe he retires in 20 years. I would say by the way—
[00:13:15] Ulrich Larsen: I think he's around 73 now. So I don't think he will be here for 20 years, but he will support that country until he dies.
[00:13:22] Jordan Harbinger: Why doesn't he move there? Did you ever ask him that? Hey, you love it. Move over there.
[00:13:25] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. That's a funny part because in 2012, when we were there to the celebration, I said to him, "Mr. Kristensen, I know you're retiring next year from your work. If you want to, you can come here and live for free." And they told him many times that he is welcome when he retires, but he hadn't been moving yet. And I asked him once, "Why don't you move when you know it's possible for you?" And then he said, "Well, I'm a product of Denmark. So I live in Denmark and know how to live in Denmark." And I was like, "Yeah, but you love North Korea. If I was you and I had this chance to finally live in my—"
[00:13:59] Socialist paradise, yeah.
[00:14:00] Socialist paradise, yeah. "Why stay in cold, expensive Denmark when you can move out to and live like a king in North Korea?"
[00:14:07] Jordan Harbinger: I think it's an actions-speak-louder-than-words situation. I mean, I'm sure he's thought about it and then went, "Oh, will I have Internet when I'm there because I'm a special foreigner?" "No." "Well, can I buy like a nice house? Where can I buy food that's not state rations?" "You can't." "Oh, well, how do I fly back and forth and visit people?" "You have to get a north Korean passport and then we tell you if you can never leave again?"
[00:14:29]Ulrich Larsen: Exactly.
[00:14:30] Jordan Harbinger: "Eeh Copenhagen doesn't seem so bad."
[00:14:32] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. I think I will stay that too.
[00:14:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:14:34] Ulrich Larsen: But it's a big, great experience being there. Many points, it's a fantastic nature.
[00:14:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. They do have some unspoiled nature.
[00:14:41] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. It's very beautiful. And you can have like two minutes on your own and you have somebody. "Hello, Mr. Larsen or Mr. Harbinger, we had to go."
[00:14:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I remember plenty of times where I would be walking and I would — even just sort of like walking along the beach at a hotel, thinking, this is a beach and a hotel. I'm not going to get in trouble. And then I see guys out on the rocks fishing and I go, I want to walk over there and I'll walk back. And before I get even remotely close, some guy comes out of the freaking forest and says, "Ah, go back that way." And I'm like, "Were you watching me the whole time? How did — where did you come from?" Ooh, some dude literally walking in the forest alongside me so that I don't see him thinking if he goes far enough, I'll tell him to turn back. That is the thing. And I remember thinking no path through this forest, I walked up and around and there's no trail. Like this guy was just walking through the bushes to see where I was going.
[00:15:35] Ulrich Larsen: He was just pulling through like a machine.
[00:15:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So freaking weird.
[00:15:39] Ulrich Larsen: I actually did the same. I stayed at Yanggakdo Hotel and I wanted to walk — you know, there's a football field and the cinema building.
[00:15:46] Jordan Harbinger: This is the hotel that foreigners can stay in Pyongyang. It's one of the few hotels.
[00:15:51] Ulrich Larsen: This is the best one to keep them isolated on the island and the river.
[00:15:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. For those of you who haven't heard my North Korean episodes before. It's on an island in the river, so you can't just go off of it. There's like one military or security checkpoint. So you can't just wander off. You're a kind of on a hotel, but Alcatraz and you can't get away from it.
[00:16:12] Ulrich Larsen: And if you're swimming, they probably also swim after use.
[00:16:16] Jordan Harbinger: Or they just shoot you and say that you fell in the water.
[00:16:18] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. The funny part, I think I walked around 200 meters and I haven't seen anybody following me. It was like my little own rebellion test.
[00:16:25] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:16:26] Ulrich Larsen: But then suddenly a lady I knew from the hotel came out in front of me, like she has been running around the building and she was like, "Ooh, are you here, Mr. Larsen? Well, let me follow you back to the hotel so we can have a beer or a cup of coffee." "Okay. Let's go back, right?" But that changed when I had the medal, I was a bit more able to walk free.
[00:16:47] Jordan Harbinger: Free.
[00:16:47] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. But I have seen how they treated journalists in North Korea to really show them that we are the one in charge here.
[00:16:55] Jordan Harbinger: My favorite trick was seeing something interesting outside the window of the bus and then running up and saying, "I have to go to the bathroom urgently right now and so thus him and him." And then everybody would get off the bus on the side of the highway. And it's like, three of us are going to pretend to pee? And the other guys are going to get their cameras out and wander around. And then eventually, "They were like, guys, if you want to take photos, just ask and stop to take photos." They liked us because we were pretty cool. But we wanted to like talk to the girls that were laying around picking flowers and they were. They couldn't speak English. So they would like sort of laugh and flirt and then some guy would come out from the village and yell at them and they would run away. I mean, we had a lot of fun doing that, but it's the kind of fun that you have when you realize that you're in a human zoo, but you're the visitor and those of the zoo animals. So it's dark, right? It's a dark situation.
[00:17:39] Ulrich Larsen: It's really — I have many time questioned myself if I have been asking a North Korean citizen on the street, a question to my guides, and asked him a question and he asked her and they came back and translated. I don't think they ever answered my questions because the answer I had back was we are so happy to live here. And we are so proud that President Kim Il-sung built this country for us and we will do whatever it takes for him and his family to have a healthy life. And when people ask me, "How is it to go to North Korea?" I will say, "Well, it's quite difficult to describe because it's like your whole body is on overtime because you know you are being followed and maybe you got some silly, crazy questions and you need to think, what do I say? And what do I do? How do I react to things?" One of the most difficult questions I have was when we went to the Mansu Hill one day that revealed the two new bronze statues.
[00:18:33] Jordan Harbinger: So these are giant statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il that were unveiled. I don't know, like 2013 or something like that after Kim Jong-il died.
[00:18:41] Ulrich Larsen: 2012.
[00:18:42] Jordan Harbinger: 2012.
[00:18:42] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:18:42] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:18:43] Ulrich Larsen: I was participating in that moment and Kim Jong-un came by in a great car. I don't know what brand it was, but it wasn't a very big limousine. And people went practically, you know, freaking out. And after that we went to the bus and then one of the guards sat next to me and he said, "Mr. Larsen, how do you feel?" I said, "Well, I was surprised that the young successor was here tonight and it was a great firework and very beautiful. It's just showed me how you love your leader." "But Mr. Larsen, how do you feel in your heart?"
[00:19:15] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow. That's interesting.
[00:19:17] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. And then I said, "I feel this kind of — it's warm. I feel comfortable." For 10, maybe 15 minutes, he kept asking me about my heart and my mind of this particular situation.
[00:19:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:19:29] Ulrich Larsen: Then finally, one of the — there was a young guy at age 22 or something, he could see what happens and he could see that I was starting to get a bit, you know, go away or leave me alone—
[00:19:40] Jordan Harbinger: Uncomfortable.
[00:19:40] Ulrich Larsen: "Can I ask you a question?" I was like, "I had nothing to hide, but it was just uncomfortable. Because it was my heart and my mind, my heart and my mind." "And do you feel the same in Denmark for your prime minister?" And I was like, "Well, sometimes, maybe, and other times, it's finger up in the air, you know?"
[00:19:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:19:58] Ulrich Larsen: And he was like, "Can you do that?" "Yeah. We can even make jokes with our leaders and our queen." And I asked him, "Do you never have like a teacher where you make funny stuff with your president or leaders?" And he was like, "No."
[00:20:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, no way.
[00:20:13] Ulrich Larsen: "No, if that happens, he probably got shot or killed or tortured or something. All the kinds of things. We really have to be focused the whole time. And especially when I have a mission, I was ready not to do any harm to anybody."
[00:20:27] Jordan Harbinger: Do you think he wanted an honest answer? Like, do you think he was like, "No, no, no, no. Come on, come on, come on, just tell me the truth"? Or do you think it was kind of, of like a trap?
[00:20:34] Ulrich Larsen: I think it was like a trap to find out if I really was in the association and, you know, care for their country and maybe not even be a journalist or CIA agent, because one of the things they have told me many times is we are very careful because the CIA would love to be in our country to place microphones or chips to put in buses to see where things are. They are already suspicious of everybody they don't know. And with Alejandro Cao de Benós, the president of the International Friendship Association, he's the gatekeeper of North Korea. And he's really a mean person when he's in North Korea.
[00:21:13] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest The Mole Ulrich Larsen. We'll be right back.
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[00:23:17] Jordan Harbinger: And now back to Ulrich Larsen, The Mole, on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:23:23] I've met him in North Korea and he was extremely rude, mean. He deleted a bunch of people's pictures without permission. He just picked up their camera, took memory cards away from people, and they're like, "Hey, what? Come on, I just spent like three days taking photos of everything. There's nothing on there. You can look through it." And he would just delete everything and say, "No, I'm the one who tells you what you can take photos of."
[00:23:42] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:23:43] Jordan Harbinger: His name is Alejandro Cao de Benós. This is the leader of the International Korean Friendship Association. So he's the chief weirdo, I guess, when it comes to these sorts of things. But he also runs tours in North Korea, in case you have no idea who we're talking about, which is everyone listening right now. He very much has this, in my opinion, a little man complex. He's a nobody in Spain or wherever he lives. I don't mean to be rude, but to give you a picture of him for those listening or watching. He's kind of just like a dork and he's a nerdy dorky dude who doesn't have a lot going on, but when he is in North Korea, he's the cool foreign guy that is the chief of all of the international tourists that can come and go from North Korea. And he's got a bunch of medals for existing and a North Korean military uniform that he loves to sort of cosplay and put on and pretend like he's an important guy in North Korea.
[00:24:37] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:24:37] Jordan Harbinger: Well, in my opinion and I have no real facts for this is that north Korean military and other high ranking officials probably look at him like the biggest dumb ass that they can use and abuse. And he is just a toy for them to try and get money and recognition. I don't think he's important at all.
[00:24:52] Ulrich Larsen: I think that we can quite agree on that because it shows how he put me into the whole thing. And when I introduced Mr. James, he could literally smell the money in front of his nose. And I remember paying him for me and Mr. James, the price was like five times higher than I went the first time where I arranged practically the whole thing by myself with the Danish Association.
[00:25:14] Jordan Harbinger: The tour was more expensive when you went with him than if you went—
[00:25:17] Ulrich Larsen: oh yeah, yeah.
[00:25:18] Jordan Harbinger: —with another company.
[00:25:19] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah, yeah. Alejandro, he's like — I should transfer him money and I should give money to the North Koreans, have money back with me and give it to him. And as you said in Spain, he's a zero. I visit him in Spain many times. And there's approximately a 100 people, I think, in Spain who look up to him as a father figure because they have come from lower — how do you say in English?
[00:25:44] Jordan Harbinger: Lower socioeconomic status, yeah.
[00:25:46] Ulrich Larsen: And when they come to him, it's like, he's very kind to them and, well, at least, you can have a meal or at least take a soda, bottle of water, come to our meetings. And then you are good friends with Alejandro and they really respect him.
[00:26:00] Jordan Harbinger: It's like a cult or a gang.
[00:26:01] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:26:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:02] Ulrich Larsen: And when I started speaking with him, I came a lot to Spain to build up this friendship with him. The people from Spain who went as a part of the Korean Friendship Association, I could speak with Alejandro, like I just say, "Hey, Alejandro, how are you?" And they were like more, "Ooh, Alejandro, nice meeting you. And thank you for letting us come here today."
[00:26:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yes, sir. Please, sir. Thank you, sir. Yeah, that kind of thing.
[00:26:23] Ulrich Larsen: Exactly. And I was like myself and they could see that he was speaking to me a lot, but that was, of course, because we had a mission, him and me. He fought as well, but to sit with him in the embassy in Madrid, then suddenly one of the staff—
[00:26:38] Jordan Harbinger: Is this in the North Korean embassy in Madrid?
[00:26:40] Ulrich Larsen: North Korean embassy in Madrid.
[00:26:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:42] Ulrich Larsen: And then suddenly, an official from the embassy took me in my shoulder and said, "Mr. Larsen, you have to come with me." And one went to Alejandro, and said, "You have to come with me,.The ambassador has to speak with you." And when they did that, Alejandro was like, "Ooh," you know, he was really pushing his chest forward and when he walked with big arms and looking around people. And I just walked with him and we came in and they locked the door. When we came out from the room, again, all the people attending the meeting, they were all just like staring at us. Like we were rock stars or something because Alejandro has a friend who can go with him into the ambassador and speak and he comes to Spain many times. He had invited Alejandro to Norway. And Alejandro in Spain, I don't know if you can say — he's a comic figure.
[00:27:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. A comic figure. In other words, nobody takes him seriously. He's not interesting or powerful or authoritative guy in Spain.
[00:27:35] Ulrich Larsen: But he's dangerous in North Korea, very dangerous. We went to the secret camp in 2012. And the delegation from Denmark where one people from Finland attending, because Finland could not do their own delegation. You know, they like delegation from this and this.
[00:27:52] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:27:52] Ulrich Larsen: So he was invited to go with us and he went out to the toilet in a building and it was just a hole in the ground. And he took a picture and one of the Spanish friends of Alejandro saw that. And he was just running to Alejandro and said, "Hey, this man is taking picture and he's an enemy and blah, blah, blah, blah." And Alejandro was like a soldier, just literally confronted him and said, "Why are you taking this picture? And are you crazy?" And he said, "Hey, hey, hey, hey, I come from Finland. 90 percent of our country is, you know, forest. And we have houses in the forest and we don't have water or electricity. This toilet was practically the same as in my house, in the forest in Finland. So I just wanted to take it home to show that we had the same." And he had pictures on his camera.
[00:28:44] Jordan Harbinger: That's good thinking because Alejandro is thinking, "You're trying to make North Korea look bad, and this guy is like, "No, I'm just trying to show the similarities between North Korea and finland. Yeah.
[00:28:53] Ulrich Larsen: And it took like, I guess, like an hour to discuss with him. And at that point I didn't know Alejandro very well, so I just literally kept myself away.
[00:29:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:29:02] Ulrich Larsen: It was like lighting up a rocket for New Year's Eve. He exploded, Alejandro. I knew he could do that because I have been seeing this film, The Friends of Kim, where he goes into, I think it's an Australian journalist and literally smashed his cameras and hard drives and tapes, everything, all his notes, even the north Korean stamps. We don't do like this. This is Alejandro. "We don't do like this. We are North Koreans. We are polite people." So that just shows when he comes there and he's been telling me the same thing. "All right, when we are in North Korea, we have to be strong and brutal because the North Koreans are too polite to their visitors, but, you know, sarcasm, I know. So we need to be aware of this and if we see anything, we have to confront them so they can get punished."
[00:29:53] Jordan Harbinger: That's scary. There's one point in The Mole where he says about the director, "If he comes to North Korea, I'll smash his face and put him in the mine because they'll put him in a hard labor camp in a mine, and he'll basically die working." We had a defector from North Korea who's a kid, my friend, Charles Ryu. He's not a kid anymore. He's 25, 26, but he worked in a mine because he escaped North Korea, got caught by China, and put back and they put him in the mine and he said it was pretty horrible, but he was homeless before. So he ended up taking a paid job in the mine, but he was like 14 drinking and smoking and working in a mine. And he said he wasn't the only kid in there.
[00:30:28] Ulrich Larsen: That's a scary.
[00:30:29] Jordan Harbinger: Terrifying.
[00:30:30] Ulrich Larsen: I literally think if Alejandro really succeed with things like that, he will just be proud of himself because he removed an enemy of North Korea. But it's stupid to be born, raised in Spain, and call yourself a North Korean.
[00:30:44] Jordan Harbinger: It's unhinged.
[00:30:45] Ulrich Larsen: So different from each other.
[00:30:46] Jordan Harbinger: It's unhinged and makes no sense. Now, I would ask why you, but, I mean, no offense by this, by the way, you and I are getting along great. But I have to say you are the perfect mole because you're a retired chef. And if I had to describe you for a police sketch, I don't think I could do it. They'd show me the police sketch and they show me the face of the bald guy with no hair, and I'd say, "Yeah, that's him." And they'd say, "No, we haven't added any features yet. We have to add features." And I'd say, "No, you don't. You got them already. Eyes, nose, mouth, no hair, that's it." Like, you are the blank slate of the guy that they paint before they say, "All right, how do I add the distinguishing features?" "There are none. But again, I don't mean any offense by that. I just think it was great because nobody — you know, if you look at somebody like Mr. James — and we'll introduce him in a second because I'm trying to be easy on the new characters. You know, he is this tall, gregarious guy with a beard and he's got tattoos and he's loud and he's like kind of a wild man. And you could describe that guy and people would go, "I bet that's who they're talking about," but it's really easy for you to blend in these kinds of situations. And I think that worked out well in your favor.
[00:31:53] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. I was actually quite surprised when The Mole came out, because one of the former chiefs of the Norwegian Intelligence Service, he described me as gray mouse.
[00:32:03] Jordan Harbinger: Gray mouse.
[00:32:04] Ulrich Larsen: You know, the one who come to the room and walk out again and you say, "Was he here?" "Yeah, he was here." And the same did Annie Machon said, the MI5 officer.
[00:32:14] Jordan Harbinger: Right in the film you debrief with this MI5 officer, who's asking you questions just like you would, if you debriefed with the CIA after getting back from North Korea.
[00:32:23] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:32:23] Jordan Harbinger: I did that twice. With normal tourists, they don't really care, but sometimes when you come back from a trip in North Korea, the CIA or the FBI or whatever, they want to talk to you and say, "Hey, what did you do this time? Anything new?" And if you say, "Oh, we went to a museum." They don't care. But if you did something and they want to — they want to have lunch.
[00:32:40] Ulrich Larsen: They want to know.
[00:32:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:32:41] Ulrich Larsen: If they're like, I'm ready to take a lunch for them. Yeah. I think I could tell them a lot.
[00:32:45] Jordan Harbinger: When you come to the United States, I'll set up a lunch.
[00:32:48] Ulrich Larsen: That's great.
[00:32:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:32:49] Ulrich Larsen: I've also found out that I was really good at networking with people without people actually knowing I was networking with them. Just to get the information from the people around. And I think that kind of coolness or not even coolness, but that calm person as I am was just a perfect match for this project.
[00:33:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:33:09] Ulrich Larsen: I had never arguing with any people or anything during 10, 11 years.
[00:33:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You seem pretty unflappable. Like even when you're nervous in the film, you can't really tell. I mean, you can, I guess if you say, "I'm really nervous right now, I got to take off this microphone," But there are times — and we'll get to a couple of close calls, where I thought, "Yeah, I'd be sh*tting myself. And you were like, "Oh, let's see if this works."
[00:33:31] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:33:32] Jordan Harbinger: I want to kind of keep chronological order here because the story can get kind of complicated.
[00:33:35] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:33:35] Jordan Harbinger: How long were you in this before Alejandro Cao de Benós starts asking you to figure out ways to help North Korea make money?
[00:33:44] Ulrich Larsen: I will say three and a half, four years.
[00:33:46] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:33:47] Ulrich Larsen: Approximately. I met Alejandro in 2012 in my first visit in North Korea. And then we had a small chat to a banquet dinner and he said, "When you come back to Denmark, send me an email and let's just stay in contact." And then we quite fast find out that if — the most important thing is that I never knew that Mads Brügger, the director of The Mole met Alejandro before. So that was actually, for Mads Brügger, a great thing that I, myself, came into him as my mission. Then it took some years before I found out that they actually traveled together. So that was good for me and good for the whole project, because then it was my own way of, you know, moving into those things.
[00:34:31] But the first meeting I had in Spain with him, he talked about many things, of course, but he said, "Maybe we can do some business with the North Koreans." And when I came back to Denmark, I sent him an email and said, "Alejandro, thank you so much for taking your time, speaking with me and you know, blah, blah, blah." And he sent me an email back and said, "Well, by the way, if you could find people who would like to invest from 50,000 euros to a million euros, we can do something." And that just, you know, started up building this whole thing. And then for the next, almost three years, that was more than three years, I was networking and participating in meetings and everything that KFA did. And then we came to a point where Alejandro should meet up with a fake investor.
[00:35:15] Jordan Harbinger: And that was Mr. James.
[00:35:16] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. But in the beginning, I think that Mads Brügger tried to contact regular Danish business people, not telling them anything about it, but if they were interested in looking at an investment in North Korea. And he was just like, "Nope."
[00:35:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Well, first of all, it's illegal in pretty much every single country in the world where you would ever go. That's without saying every country, let's say any country where you would even think about going on vacation or even think about visiting a friend in, it's illegal.
[00:35:46] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:35:46] Jordan Harbinger: This is international sanctions galore.
[00:35:48] Ulrich Larsen: A few months before Mads Brügger was to a book exhibition. In that exhibition, they also had a little award with podcast. And then there was a podcast about criminal who spent eight years in jail for selling cocaine to the jet-setting in Copenhagen. And that person was Mr. James.
[00:36:06] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:36:07] Ulrich Larsen: And they just, you know, — then Mads took the phone, "Hello, Jim, this is a Mads. Listen, I need somebody who knows the game as a criminal, that you think could blah, blah, blah, go to North Korea maybe." "Yeah. When are we leaving?" "Tomorrow."
[00:36:25] Jordan Harbinger: So let's get a picture of Mr. James here because normal people don't say, "Yeah. Pretend to be an international arms dealer and go to North Korea and play that role." Mr. James is quiet character, right? He was in the French Foreign Legion. He got out of the French — and if you know anything about that, that's like, if your life is really a total sh*t show, go join the French Foreign Legion, where you can get away with killing terrorists in Africa, or like insurgence in the Middle East. And you get paid kind of crappy, but at the end you get a French passport, but this is a guy from Denmark, okay. So this isn't a guy who needs a French passport. If you are living in the middle of South Sudan and your only way to get to a better life is to join the French Foreign Legion. And you're kind of a bad mofo, go ahead. But if you're in Denmark and you joined the French Foreign Legion, you are not just an adrenaline junkie. You are somebody who basically doesn't give a f*ck if you live or die. That's kind of where you have to, right?
[00:37:21] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. And I think to put in Mr. James, or Jim Latrache-Qvortrup, was when the first meeting with Alejandro in Oslo. I was told late evening before, "Can you book a ticket more for Mr. James or Jim? Because he's our person now." So he came in very late and that was actually good because then we just have like an hour in the airport to figure our own cover story, how we knew each other. We didn't even sit together in the plane to Norway, but it was just like, we just matched together straight away. He played his character so well.
[00:37:53] Jordan Harbinger: He did and I'll talk about the cover and a bit here, but, okay. So he gets out of the French Foreign Legion, Mr. James, and he becomes a cocaine dealer, like a big enough cocaine dealer to go to prison for eight years, gets out, and decides he's going to be an actor, which is actually a perfect role for him because he's like this tall, good looking guy who's obviously insane, and can totally paint himself in it the front way easily.
[00:38:15] Ulrich Larsen: He can do many crazy things. Yeah.
[00:38:17] Jordan Harbinger: And he pretends to be this a representative anyway, or an oil man, who's interested in investing in different places. You know, "$50 million and up, otherwise it's not interesting," he says. And he says, "Yeah, I'll invest in North Korea. I don't care." And I guess if you need somebody to pretend to be an arms dealer, a former soldier and international cocaine dealer who is now an actor is really the perfect person to do this.
[00:38:37] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. He was taking on this character like, I think, he's 90 percent himself actually, because he knows his criminal game. As he told me, "I was always supposed to lie when I was out." You know, that's what drug dealers do or criminals do, they lie to families, lie to everybody. And I think that was a strange for him because even though that the North Koreans try to, you know, push him a bit with questions, it was like, "No, I can do this. I do this and I do this, or just give me 10 million more." You know, he was just like, acting like money is not an issue. And I was like, "Wow, you're really into this." And I was the quiet, clever one. And he was like the elephant in the glass house, you know, big arms around. And the funny thing is he was brilliant having in North Korea and today, well, he's become one of my best friends, of course, but we are so different from each other. And I think that's just what makes us a good couple.
[00:39:33] And I remember Mr. Kang told me, "The jokes that Mr. James is putting up could be, you know, pervert jokes and funny jokes," and, you know, that was also great for me and him because, you know, in North Korea, you really need something to laugh about, but he translated some of the jokes. And then Mr. Kang was forced to translate them to Korean. And he said, "They are not so good jokes. Ulrich, can you please tell Mr. James that?" "Yes, sure." And I came into my room and I was like, no, I won't tell Mr. James, because he needs to be Mr. James.
[00:40:02] Jordan Harbinger: He needs to be himself. Yeah.
[00:40:04] Ulrich Larsen: Because if I go in and say, "Hey Jim, listen, Mr. Kang just told me that the jokes—" Then maybe that would make him think, "Oh, I need to, you know, change myself a bit.
[00:40:13] Jordan Harbinger: You don't want him to get in his head and start overthinking it. You want him to be off the—
[00:40:17] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:40:18] Jordan Harbinger: He needs to be a little bit out of control because his character is an arms dealer that is out of control.
[00:40:23] Ulrich Larsen: Exactly.
[00:40:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:40:24] Ulrich Larsen: Then I think I can translate it different if it's needed.
[00:40:29] Jordan Harbinger: Right. I'm not going to say what he said. I'm going to say a crappier version and they'll just go, "Eeh, it's not funny, but you know, that's the Danish humor."
[00:40:36] Ulrich Larsen: Danish humor, yeah.
[00:40:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And I'm not going to say that joke about women's body parts in front of 15 different people. Yeah, yeah, exactly.
[00:40:45] Ulrich Larsen: But they also liked him. They liked him because of his money.
[00:40:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:40:49] Ulrich Larsen: No doubt about that. And when you can sit a whole day with North Koreans and negotiate about things and say, "Well, it's three o'clock in the morning, we have a deal." You go to bed for five hours, have your breakfast, and you have to start a meeting the next day. And they start again from scratch. And he was like, "No, you promised and Alejandro promised. When we're here, we have to do business." The things just flipped over and then all the doors opened to what you see in The Mole with all the weapons and the other things. It was like, they just needed to really verify Mr. James himself.
[00:41:25] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Ulrich Larsen, The Mole. We'll be right back.
[00:41:30] This episode is sponsored in part by Bloomscape. I spend a lot of time in my home lately. I don't know if you all can identify, but adding some greenery by Bloomscape can help live in this space up from elegant palms to hardy snake plants, which sounds scarier than they are. Bloomscape can help you refresh your space. And Bloomscape provides the guidance to keep them growing all year long. So we ordered the snake plant because it's a hardy one. You don't have to really worry about it too much, very necessary when you have a toddler. I can't care for another living thing. I just can't do it. Apparently, NASA research has shown snake plant — good thing, I'm having another kid, right? NASA researchers shown snake plants to help keep the air inside your home clean, removing toxins. Our plant arrived from Bloomscape, carefully packaged, tucked in a box with a blanket-like material to keep it cozy and transit. I think this thing was cushioned more than I am in the evening. Now, the plant adorns our home recording studio, making the space feel much more homey. They've got plants for all skill levels, pet friendly, not pet friendly air filtration sizes. They deliver it right to your door, fully potted, ready to go right out of the box.
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[00:45:13] Don't forget we have worksheets for many episodes. If you want some of the drills, exercises, takeaways, those are all talked about during the show, we put them all in one easy place for you. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast.
[00:45:26] And now for the rest of part one, with Ulrich, The Mole.
[00:45:32] They don't really verify anything. They spent a lot of time with him, but they didn't even Google the company.
[00:45:37] Ulrich Larsen: No.
[00:45:38] Jordan Harbinger: I know that Mr. James disappeared after the film, but I got to say, I looked for him online and I didn't even have to call in any heavy duty resources. I found him fairly easily.
[00:45:47] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. But I think if Alejandro or somebody Googled him before The Mole,, they will have Internet pages of him being this cocaine drug pusher. It was a big case in Denmark and in all the newspapers. And that could verify him as a criminal. So I think if Alejandro and I think he did, because, yeah, he checks up people and I think that was enough for him. Also, when I verify for Mr. James says, "He's my friend," and he represents this company and they like to do risky business and stuff. And of course, Alejandro said to me many times, "Well, $10,000 is nothing for Mr. James, so he can give it to you and me. So we need butter on our bread." As we say it in Denmark, or we had to pay our bills. And Alejandro was really expecting this to happen. And also because Mr. James said, "I heard you like Breitling watches. When this is over, go out and find a Breitling watch and send it to Ulrich so he can see what kind is this and find one when we get through all this." And I practically just came home from that meeting. I had an email from Alejandro with what kind of Breitling watches I wanted and everything, and the price and size. And it was like, he just—
[00:46:54] Jordan Harbinger: Took the hook, line, and sinker as what we say.
[00:46:56] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:46:56] Jordan Harbinger: Hook, line, and sinker.
[00:46:58] Ulrich Larsen: I think the people he had been sending to North Korea, he has been cheating a lot by him. He just literally cheats people.
[00:47:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. By overcharging them and keeping their money, you mean?
[00:47:07] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. A funny story is — I can't remember what year, so many years. But we went to Tarragona, he's native city.
[00:47:13] Jordan Harbinger: Alejandro native city. Yeah.
[00:47:15] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. And we have to host a meeting where the ambassador from Madrid will attend as well. And this room, he said, "This is around 300 euros and I have this collection box. So if people would like to donate, it will be very helpful for the association." And you know, people said, "Well, 300 euros—" And for me as a Danish citizen, "Wow, that's cheap." For the Spanish people, it's like, "Wow, it's like a rent or something." And people donated. I donate myself. Then I have to speak with Alejandro. So I walked with him after the meeting, up to the cashier to pay. When I look at the pay, it was like 79 or 89 euros.
[00:47:53] Jordan Harbinger: So he marks everything up and pockets the cash.
[00:47:55] Ulrich Larsen: I think he really needs to do that to many people because — at one point we had to buy some drawings and stuff and he wanted money for them. First, he said it was a thousand euros. And the week after don't forget the 1500 euros. He pushed the limit all the time. And I don't know what his income is. Actually, I don't think he has a job.
[00:48:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:48:16] Ulrich Larsen: I think he has been living on sending people to North Korea, he benefits from that.
[00:48:20] Jordan Harbinger: Which look you can I make money as a tour operator, but if you're marking things up 300 percent and pocketing the rest and saying that that's the cost and you're borderline con man. But that's the least of our concerns, right? Because Alejandro soon offers with Mr. James to make missiles, weapons, and methamphetamine in the DPRK, so in North Korea for Mr. James. That's pretty damn brazen to bust that out. Right? This is like, he didn't say, "Yeah, we can make handicrafts. We can make water faucets that can be imported to China for sale." He says, "Look, let's make highly illegal stuff. That's used to hurt and kill people," period, because that's valuable. Right? This is where he starts.
[00:49:03] Ulrich Larsen: For me, it was like a dream for me to show that that was the kind of thing he liked to do. And I was so surprised when he opened his mouth about that. And I was thinking, "Wow, that's going to be some kind of a documentary."
[00:49:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I'm filming. You're thinking this is gold. Like keep talking Alejandro.
[00:49:18] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. And I was like, well, what more can I achieve now? And then, you know, we need to have proof of the things and going to North Korea and come back with that kind of things from North Korea which was the most scariest room I may have been in when they showed us those catalogs of weapons and tanks and missiles.
[00:49:36] Jordan Harbinger: So let's talk about how that happened, right? So you're planning to go to North Korea and they said, you got to be able to hold your liquor because this is a country where you're drinking for fun, but you're also drinking for business and you're drinking. Now, you're not just going on a tour to look at a parade. You're going to drink with arms dealers who are probably hanging out with intelligence agents because you're foreign and they're going to be saying, "Can we get these guys drunk? And they make a mistake in their cover story. Can we get them really drunk and really sick? And then they're telling us something that they shouldn't be telling us. Maybe they don't even remember, or we can convince them of something." So now you're thinking like, "Oh my God, I better start drinking whiskey in my free time, just to make sure I can handle it." Were you nervous at all going to North Korea? One, knowing you're in an undercover operation at this point, but also Otto Warmbier, that American student who was 20 and ended up either being framed or possibly stole a poster and ended up getting sentenced to 12 years of hard labor and ended up dying. Were you thinking about that?
[00:50:34] Ulrich Larsen: Well, the most scary part about the Otto Warmbier cases, when we were in Pyongyang, having those meetings with the personnel in the weapons factory and all those kinds of things, also Otto Warmbier was imprisoned in North Korea. And when I look back now, I was driving around the whole Pyongyang being treated like a king. And when the whole production found out about the story about Otto Warmbier, they said, "Listen, if he knew what happened to Otto, we wouldn't have sent you out to North Korea." Because Otto was probably framed — he was framed. I'm quite convinced about that. But look, what happens to him because of a poster. I just literally took the pants down on a whole regime, exposing their weapons program. And well, it saddens me to speak about Otto Warmbier because — yeah, it's just that you can treat people like he was treated — I don't understand that. But I think he was used as a — how to say it? Puzzle?
[00:51:25] Jordan Harbinger: A political pawn. Right.
[00:51:27] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:51:28] Jordan Harbinger: He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
[00:51:30] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:51:30] Jordan Harbinger: They probably did frame him and then they put them in prison thinking, "Oh, the Americans are going to have to go easy on us while we do our nuclear testing if we're holding this kid here. And then he died because probably who knows the been mistreated. He could have been given a drug. He ended up with brain damage and went into a coma and passed away.
[00:51:48] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. I actually asked, I speak with the Warmbier family today. I've been speaking many times with them since the release of The Mole and Fred and Cindy are the most fantastic people and whatever I can do to help them. They know that they just call me and I will do whatever it takes to help them. It's just people ask me a lot about Otto Warmbier and they don't know that I speak with his parents, but when they find out what he was accused of and what I did, they just think that I must be the most craziest person on earth—
[00:52:19] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:52:19] Ulrich Larsen: —going out there and practically take up a camera, filming weapon contracts being signed.
[00:52:24] Jordan Harbinger: Like they put him in a prison and hard labor camp at age 20 or 19 or however old he was for taking a poster. And this is the charge they cooked up. Imagine what would happen to you if you expose their international weapons program. This would be the worst and most unimaginable forms of torture. I think that are possible technologically to inflict on somebody. I mean, this is stuff that I imagined you have nightmares about that.
[00:52:48] Ulrich Larsen: So when we came back home from North Korea, we really start rethinking security. And we were quite agreed on that we are not going back to North Korea—
[00:52:58] Jordan Harbinger: Ever.
[00:52:58] Ulrich Larsen: —to do the rest of this documentary. We had enough to stop at that point, but you know, there was a bit of time to digest what we came back with. Alejandro came up with the wives of the, of this next phase of triangle dealing with a Jordanian person to send oil. And it was like, "Is he now trying to frame Mr. James to put up money to a person who do not exist?" But I did a check on Mr. Dasouqi. In the end, I asked Alejandro for a phone number for him because I didn't trust Alejandro at all. So in the other end, there was a Mr. Dasouqi who was pleased to speak with me. And it was less like, well, let's see what this can take. And from that point on, we really put up the security.
[00:53:37] Jordan Harbinger: So Mr. Dasouqi, he is a Jordanian, I guess you'd say businessman, but he's also connected to some dark circles and he wanted to smuggle fuel. And I want to get that story in a little, but before I want to sort of take it back, you can say like, look okay, you're prepping for your trip to North Korea. You were worried about going eventually you stop. But before you went to North Korea, you took a crash course with a retired CIA agents. So describe what this was like. This is a guy who wouldn't be filmed. He wore a balaclava mask on camera. And he, you things like gun disarms, which frankly are not going to be super useful. If you're in a place with nowhere to go, you're better off just frog marching with the guns.
[00:54:17] Ulrich Larsen: Well, I was so lucky to meet up with a man with a mask. I know he's real identity, of course. I have a lot of respect for him. Well, for me, it was in the beginning, it was like, "Wow, I'm going to the US to meet up with a CIA agent." And I was like, wow, James Bond, I should have been 13 years old or something at the point.
[00:54:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:54:35] Ulrich Larsen: And I find out how an agent thinks. And one of the most important things he taught me was to be a perfect mole or undercover agent is that you have to be 95 percent yourself and then 5 percent mole, because you will always be tested by people when you walk in with criminals. So keep your story so close to the truth. Tell them, "I have two children. I have a wife, I live in a suburb of Copenhagen, my phone number, my emails—" Give it to them because all those kinds of things are normal things that people will ask for. Just be yourself and trust yourself. And the last 5 percent is the one who observed. Maybe you ask those silly questions. As normal person, never would ask people about — play myself a bit naive, you know, not stupid, but you know, like, "Wow, can you please explain that again? Because I really need to think that through my head." With people like Alejandro who likes to brag and you know, "I'm the man." He was like, "Oh yeah, now listen, we do like this and this and this," and everything was recorded.
[00:55:40] So it was just like to be yourself. But he told me, it's easy to see if you can follow. And especially if people treat you with a gun, they have the power of you. But if you give action to that, then this action is always better than reaction, which means he's pointing at you or she is pointing at you with a gun and you are in close distance, that person will never expect you to grab the gun away and always push it to the person because then you do the action. But the one who is threatening you needs to rethink the whole situation and do the reaction. At that point, you can really get yourself an advantage, getting away, even get the gun away and stuff like that. And he taught me that if people are watching you, following you — if you have a suspicion of like you and me were meeting on the street and you were following me, or, you know, our following you if we walk through each other, normal people will always just give a small glimpse to the person coming next to you. And he said, in 99 percent, the one who is following another person will never look the person in the eye or at the person. And that was a good thing to know.
[00:56:50] And I think one time I was followed in Madrid by a police officer in Madrid when I had a meeting with Alejandro because he followed me around. And when I walked past him, he just looked away. Well, I think actually he was maybe following Alejandro and not me—
[00:57:05] Jordan Harbinger: For sure.
[00:57:05] Ulrich Larsen: But when I was there, he probably thinks, "Okay, you have been speaking with this guy for three hours in a cafe, maybe we should just look at you."
[00:57:12] Jordan Harbinger: It's very possible. They may also know just from — I mean, look, if you were going to North Korea, you're probably on the register of Danish Intelligence after the third or fourth, you know, visit with your medals. And then they say, "Hey look, it might be nothing," but he's meeting with the Korean Friendship Association. He's meeting with the leader of the Korean Friendship Association. They're probably sharing intelligence between Spain and Denmark. And they're just saying, "Hey, look, we don't know anything. These could be two geeks, you know, watching North Korean documentaries for all we know. But they're meeting up and they've been there for three hours, you know, maybe you should just make sure. See where he's going." I would imagine anybody who has a lot to do with North Korea is on the intelligence radar on the radar of intelligence services in their country. I went a few times and I remember talking with an FBI agent, friend of mine, and he said, you should meet with the CIA because you want to be ahead of this if anything happens, not like, "Oh yeah, I've been to North Korea four times. Why is that weird?" He's like, "You should be meeting with them so that they know that they can talk to you face to face, not try and get to you some other way." So I ended up meeting with them for that reason. So I, it doesn't surprise me at all that you were followed.
[00:58:22] Ulrich Larsen: Well, actually the first time I spoke with an intelligence in those 11 years, that was after a release of The Mole in Denmark. They came to my house security wise to check out if I had the right doors and windows and, you know, alarms, video surveillance and stuff. And to tell me how they see — how do I say? The threat against me.
[00:58:44] Jordan Harbinger: The threat against you from North Korean agents.
[00:58:46] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah, or for people supporting North Korea. In September, I will go out as a . I have two in Denmark, and everybody knows what town I'm going to, but they don't know the venue. The people who bought tickets will have the venue three hours before and advantage on their mobile phone or email. And I will be followed around by a security agent with me from stage to backstage and just to care for my own safety. And hopefully I'm coming to the US to speak as well. Some people have been asking me already if I go outside of Denmark. Of course, I would like to go to the US to tell my story, because I had a lot of emails and messages on Twitter and Instagram about my story. And they also asked me, when will it be broadcasted in the US but I don't know when, but I think maybe some of the TV stations are a bit afraid of what happened with the interview movie and the Sony network that they—
[00:59:45] Jordan Harbinger: Right with the hack where they were going to release the movie. And instead Sony got a major attack from North Korean cybersecurity agents. Yeah. And they took, they leaked emails. They destroyed intellectual property. Yeah, that was a big problem.
[01:00:00] Ulrich Larsen: But also I think that it could maybe be seen for a political perspective that this movie, if it will be broadcasted in the US could change the whole relationship with the US and North Korea. I don't know because it literally just exposed the North Koreans, but I hope it will be out in the autumn, in the US. Actually, in the autumn, it will be shown in Japan, in the cinemas around 25 cinemas all over Japan. That's a great thing. And they have a story with North Korea as well.
[01:00:29] Jordan Harbinger: They do having invaded the Korean peninsula. Japan and North Korea are — North Korea hates Japan as much as the United States, possibly in some ways more possibly in some ways they're less of a threat, but certainly they are essentially looked upon as Nazis, just like the United States. I mean, they are the enemy.
[01:00:49] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. So a lot of the stories I've heard Korea peninsula as you say is a never ending story.
[01:00:56] Jordan Harbinger: Of course, I've got thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that, here's a sample of my interview with Guy Raz who hosts NPR's How I Built This. He shares his number one secret to getting a great interview, how asking difficult questions during the interview serves both the overall story and the guests being grilled. And it's kind of nice to just riff with somebody else in the business.
[01:01:16] Guy Raz: I came to NPR as a 22-year-old intern. I was very lucky. You know I really wanted to be an overseas reporter and the stars were sort of aligned in the right way where I got the job and I was totally terrified. You know, I was sent to Berlin to be the correspondent for NPR.
[01:01:33] Jordan Harbinger: Don't mess this up. Oh yeah, and by the way, you're going to Bosnia tomorrow.
[01:01:36] Guy Raz: And that's how I began overseas as a foreign correspondent. Bearing witness to historical events, being somewhere where they're unfolding in front of your eyes in real time is thrilling. It's absolutely extraordinary and fascinating. I mean, imagine if you were standing at the Berlin Wall on November 9th, 1989.
[01:01:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:01:56] Guy Raz: It's an extraordinary feeling to be in these places. And I was able to witness history unfold in front of my eyes many, many times.
[01:02:05] If there's really a secret to energy and people, this is my secret. If you really want to get a good interview from somebody, you need to honor their story. You need to honor them. If they're coming to talk to you. And the way you honor them is you learn a lot about them, You spend the time you do the work. And if you do that, there's a better than 50 percent chance that they will appreciate that and respect that.
[01:02:29] I mean those wow moments, they're real because what I do in an interview is I completely leave the world that I'm in. I completely leave the surroundings, every, all the chaos, the noise, you know, Trump and politics. I just leave it. It's out, all the noise. COVID, it's gone. It's like when you see a movie, I am just in that person's world.
[01:02:53] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including the one teachable quality, all entrepreneurs seem to have in common, check out episode 404 of The Jordan Harbinger Show with Guy Raz.
[01:03:04] Thank you to Ulrich Larsen. This is the end of part one. Of course, we're going to keep it going with part two in just a few days. It's probably already out, depending on when you're listening to this.
[01:03:12] Obviously, all the links are in the show notes. Transcripts are on the show notes. Worksheets are in the show notes. There's a video of this interview going up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. We also have clips, you know, with cuts that don't make it to the show or highlights from interviews that you can't see anywhere else. jordanharbinger.com/clips is where you can find that. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or you can hit me on LinkedIn. I always love hearing from you.
[01:03:38] I'm teaching you how to dig the well before you get thirsty and connect with amazing people and manage relationships using the systems, software, and tiny habits that I use. Again, the course is free. It's at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm teaching you how to dig the well before you get thirsty. And most of the people you hear on the show, they subscribe to the course. They contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company.
[01:03:59] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's into North Korea, arms deals, crazy stories, please share this episode with them. I hope you find something great in every episode of the show. Please share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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