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 two of a two-part episode. Part one 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 two of a two-part episode. Part one can be found here!]
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Miss our conversation with ethical hacker Harri Hursti? Catch up with episode 405: Harri Hursti | The Cyber War on America’s Elections here!
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 Two (Episode 528)
Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Hyundai for sponsoring this episode.
[00:00:02] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:05] Ulrich Larsen: Literally, when I looked and it was like stinger missiles like stinger missiles, thermobaric missilees, which is very close to nukes and it was like eight million euros of dollars, and this is like six million. And we could buy launch machines to every missile. And I was like, wow, I knew this is the most great documentation of the North Korean weapons program.
[00:00:31] 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, entrepreneurs, spies, and psychologists, even the occasional Emmy nominated comedian, organized crime figure, or money laundering expert. 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] Now, 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 the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started or to help somebody else get started. I always appreciate that.
[00:01:25] Today, this is part two with Ulrich, The Mole. He spent 10 years undercover infiltrating North Korea's illicit arms trade. Again, this is part two. If you haven't heard part one, go back and listen to part one, or you're going to come in in the middle of the story here. I'm not going to say a whole hell of a lot more. Let's just dive right into part two. Now, let's continue with Ulrich, The Mole.
[00:01:48] So you're playing your undercover character, right? And you sacrificed a lot of time, but also a part of your personality. And one of the rituals that you had is that you spray this cologne on. What did that do? I thought that was kind of an interesting little ritual that you seem to have.
[00:02:04] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. The story is that many years back, my dad gave me a deodorant and it smelled not that good.
[00:02:12] Jordan Harbinger: Not that good.
[00:02:13] Ulrich Larsen: No. And one from my first meeting with those Danish friends of North Korea, they had this cheap perfume on and it was really — well stinking and you know, not a good one. And when I then came for the first time to North Korea, many of the North Koreans liked to use the same deodorant or something. And it was like when I had this deodorant on, it was like, well, now I need to be aware that I am undercover. And I just started to use that. Always before I enter a meeting or did something, I had always Metallica in my earphones.
[00:02:44] Jordan Harbinger: Metallica, okay. So you get in the zone, you're like, all right, spray on my sh*tty, terrible cologne.
[00:02:49] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:02:50] Jordan Harbinger: Way too much of it, by the way, you're putting on way too much cologne. Like I saw like three, four sprays, but I guess, hey, like when in Rome.
[00:02:56] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:02:57] Jordan Harbinger: And then you're jamming with Metallica, so you're getting pumped up to be a criminal, an international criminal.
[00:03:04] Ulrich Larsen: Well, I just soak a bad smell and Metallica — and it's a good thing for Metallica. I love Metallica—
[00:03:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, of course, yeah.
[00:03:11] Ulrich Larsen: And I remember many times, I think it was the Four Horsemen. There's a line, "You've been dying since the day you were born. You know it's all been planned." And it was like in my mind that, well, it could go wrong. So if I die, it's been planned, I should die or get in trouble. But actually when they put out a new album, it's such a crazy thing for me to do, but I was in Tarragona with Alejandro after I went to North Korea with Mr. James to do a debrief. And in a point in the meeting, Alejandro, he wanted to show me so I could tell Mr. James that he took security really seriously. So he bought this buck detector. Is that what it's called in English?
[00:03:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Like a bug detector. So Alejandro has this device that can detect — so you go to Alejandro's house or bar to meet with him after going to North Korea. And Alejandro wanted to say, "Hey man, you know, we're doing some 007 sh*t right here. I've got this bug detector." But meanwhile, you have cameras hidden in your stuff. You've got your audio recording devices. So you must've been pretty unexcited, I would say, or excited in the wrong way to see his bug detector.
[00:04:22] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. Well, I think at that point we had been talking together for like an hour and a half and I had the computer bag with a camera and a microphone — no, two microphones and one camera. And I had a camera on myself and one or two microphones as well. And he just suddenly stands up and say, "Hey, I got to show you something." And he just walked around me and I just look over my shoulder and see — and the minute he came out, I couldn't see this frequency thing on the screen going up and down. And I was like, okay, this is it. And I was like, just relax for a few seconds.
[00:04:55] Jordan Harbinger: You must have been ready to sort of like either throw up or run out of the room or something.
[00:05:02] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. But I was like quite comfortable because he didn't want to test me out. He just wanted to show me.
[00:05:09] Jordan Harbinger: He was bragging about his new toy, yeah.
[00:05:11] Ulrich Larsen: But then when he came near me, it, of course, started to react. And luckily I have a small bag on the table with a car key. And it was like an electric car key that could send signals to the car and start the car from a mile away or something. But if you look at the recordings, I put in my arms, like I do here, because then he couldn't—
[00:05:31] Jordan Harbinger: You put your arm across your body, so he couldn't get close to the microphone. He was blocked by it. And you're holding out your car key, "Try it on this."
[00:05:39] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:05:39] Jordan Harbinger: That was good thinking, man. I got to hand it to you.
[00:05:41] Ulrich Larsen: He just bought it. And when he sat down and we just talked for like 20 minutes, more or something, and I said to him, "Well, it's a good thing, but we need to buy a bigger one, a better one." I told him — because we talked about it and he couldn't buy one for $2,000, something I don't remember. And this was the cheap one.
[00:05:58] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:05:59] Ulrich Larsen: I said, "We need to pick the good ones so we can test out for the next time and please do it every time before we come.
[00:06:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That was good thinking, "Hey, please make sure we're in a secure environment," as you walk out with your two microphones and your camera.
[00:06:10] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah, it's insane. But when I came out, I put my earphones in and connected to my phone and I had to walk 300 meters down to the car. And I just turned on Metallica, Hardwired, to self-destruct.
[00:06:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:06:25] Ulrich Larsen: And when I came in the car, I had a camera specialist with me who had put up the things, arranged with him when I'm finished, "I call you and I pick you up at that spot." And I drove down and he came in and I said, "Well, listen, he just took this off."
[00:06:42] Jordan Harbinger: "He took out the bug detector and gave me a bug sweep. Like, what am I going to do?"
[00:06:46] Ulrich Larsen: He's like, "What? He didn't find it?" I said, "No," and I think I was driving for like 10 minutes and there was a road to the right and I just put the car in—
[00:06:56] Jordan Harbinger: Pulled over.
[00:06:57] Ulrich Larsen: And then I started to be sweaty. Things don’t seem to work out, and I just need to hold up the microphone and the camera off my body and a new shirt on. And I was like, "Whoa, close call."
[00:07:08] Jordan Harbinger: Close call.
[00:07:10] Ulrich Larsen: But then 18 hours later, I went home. I came to Copenhagen again, I go to an amusement park with my family, you know, Tivoli in Copenhagen, the big park in the center. I went in and they're having ice cream and hotdogs and roller coaster rides with my children. And 18 hours before I could practically be in a really big mess. But I think when I was away from things, I could digest the things and be ready to next part. And every time, if I wanted to stop, it was just the handbrake up and stop, the production would have stopped. But, of course, I get interested because at that point I was aware that this is something that is important to show to the world also on how North Korean still undergo such sanctions and stuff, and how they could deal with people. Because as I said to many people I was the one who left North Korea and I brought Mr. James who wanted to spend a lot of money buying weapons and selling and stuff. But out in the real world, there's also a lot who lost to North Korea and Mr. Teams is also existing, so we need to stop those things.
[00:08:13] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So you're saying I might be a fake Korean Friends Association facilitator of arms deals and Mr. James might be a fake arms dealer, but somewhere out there, there's a real arms dealer and a real KFA stooge who's going to facilitate and running North Korean's sanctions or sanctions on North Korea. And you're saying we did this to show how easy this was, because there are people out there who are selling fuel illegally to North Korea, who are possibly and probably getting weapons out of North Korea and selling them into war zones. And that's kind of what I want to discuss here because you took your trip to North Korea and you're meeting with these arms dealers. Tell me about the first time you going into this basement restaurant, which is probably not exactly what you had hoped your trip would have started like.
[00:09:02] Ulrich Larsen: We had a few days where we had a lot of talking and I said, "Well, listen, Mr. James and I are here because Alejandro said that he could buy or look at those things and meet the right people." And then it flipped over by night. And they said, "Well, we're going to meet tomorrow in a special place." Well, it was not showcased in the city of Pyongyang. It was out in the slum, but down in this basement was a beautiful restaurant and girls ready for karaoke things. But you know, when we walked in, it was a bit dark and cloudy on the walls. And I was really, really starting to fear that this could be the end of this story.
[00:09:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So you're walking into like the basement of a building to meet arms dealers in North Korea.
[00:09:49] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:09:49] Jordan Harbinger: You probably weren't thinking, "Hey, they're going to bust out the karaoke. We're going to have some great food." I assume you thought you were going to take a bullet in the back of your head at some point.
[00:09:59] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah, because the door where we met was black and leather and it was so thick and I was like, "Are we going down?" And people outside the street were really looking scared at me and James, because we were Western people. And then the North Korean went, "You had to go down here and behind us." And I was like, okay, in the second, I'd just going to hear [tongue clicks], then we're gone and then it's over. And it was like the door opened. As we're looking, wow, karaoke was ready. And, "Well, please sit down. In a minute, the president of our weapon factory will join you," and a special businessman from Malaysia who came to Pyongyang to meet up with us. And I actually think he was an intelligence officer, but—
[00:10:40] Jordan Harbinger: But he's from Malaysia. Was he North Korean?
[00:10:42] Ulrich Larsen: He was North Korean, but living in Malaysia.
[00:10:44] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, okay.
[00:10:45] Ulrich Larsen: That's what they told us.
[00:10:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:47] Ulrich Larsen: And he was speaking very, very good English. They started questioning Mr. James. At one point, they asked him about the company name and we have never thought in our minds that we could get that far. And he did Targa.
[00:11:01] Jordan Harbinger: Targa. So you never thought, "Hey, we should have a company ready to go. Like they might ask us about this sh*t."
[00:11:06] Ulrich Larsen: No.
[00:11:06] Jordan Harbinger: Epic fail.
[00:11:08] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. We literally didn't expect it to go that far. But doing businesses like this, you don't have a web page saying, "Hey, we're Targa."
[00:11:16] Jordan Harbinger: That's true.
[00:11:16] Ulrich Larsen: "We sell weapons." So they were like, "Well, okay, if you call it that, well, Targa it is." And then they start questioning Jim a lot, Mr. James. And I was like, I need to remember what he's telling them, you know, because if you miss something, I can, you know—
[00:11:31] Jordan Harbinger: Fill it in.
[00:11:32] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah, exactly. And at that point you could really see that he has been used to do criminal things and talked with people.
[00:11:41] Jordan Harbinger: He's in the zone, right? He's in his element.
[00:11:43] Ulrich Larsen: He was in his zone, yeah. And he was like raving and having a beer and having, you know, ginseng snaps and all those kinds of things. And we said, "Well, let's just do an agreement of working together." And, you know, whoa. "Yeah, yeah, now, let us have some karaoke." Then I was standing up singing Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On, and I can't sing and I didn't choose the song. I was just asked to do it and you know, it was just fun and it was a great break actually. 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.
[00:12:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:12:34] Ulrich Larsen: And they took it many times for me filming me and yeah, practically filming themselves doing crimes. Well, it's insane, but they trusted me that much that, well, it has come as a shock for them. And I think today, I must be the most hated person in North Korea.
[00:12:50] Jordan Harbinger: It's possible. You know, other than the invisible bogeyman of whatever political figure they hate in the United States at this point. So what did you discuss? Because this isn't just, "Hey, we want to buy some guns." I mean, they had a, what looks to be a color printed out menu of missiles, tanks, anti-tank weapons, bullets, rifles. That they came prepared to show you the goods and you brought it back, which is incredible. I mean, when intelligence agents come and talk to you about this, they must be blown away that you have hard copy documents of weapons that they were offering to sell you.
[00:13:26] Ulrich Larsen: Well, at first, we had those papers, I couldn't do anything with them in North Korea. I just left them in my room when we were driving the day after. But when we came to China, I brought them in my computer bag. And when he came to China, I put them on the floor on the bed. I can't remember. And I just took a picture of everyone first with my iPhone, then with the regular camera and then with a video camera and did a copy for two hard drives. So I had three copies of it on three devices. Just to be sure if something happened, but luckily we had papers back with us. And literally, when I looked at it and it was like the price, the way of it, how many rounds, all detailed and it was, well, stinger missiles, thermobaric missiles which is very close to nukes. And it was like eight million euros of dollars, and this is like six million. And we could buy launch machines to every missile. It wasn't just the money. It just sets the border of what we can do. And I was like, wow, I knew this is the most great documentation of the North Korean weapons program.
[00:14:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, a smoking gun, no pun intended, is what we call that. Like, this is great evidence. You telling a story is one thing. You saying, "And they gave us this in the restaurant when they gave us a weapons contract," is something totally different. Like this is a list of weapons with the prices — they didn't just say, "Yeah, we'll sell you some guns." They said, "This is exactly what you can get and how much it's going to cost and how much it weighs for you to transport out of here." That's real evidence of intent.
[00:15:04] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. One other thing, an updated version, so they told us exactly how many they have left. They have four of these missiles and 125 of those guns. Free tanks. I can't remember the amount of it, but it was an update, but they could offer here and now.
[00:15:22] Jordan Harbinger: Updated inventory. Here's what's left.
[00:15:24] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:15:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:15:25] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:15:25] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:15:25] Ulrich Larsen: And it was like, wow. And I called the producer of the movie from Beijing and said, "Hey, I have some payments back home with us. I think it's a good idea. If you come to the airport, when we get back to Copenhagen," just so he could have the papers and put them in his safe. So he was driving late Sunday night, we came back and he was like going away from family to drive 60 kilometers from home to the airport and back just to pick up the papers because we really needed those papers to be safe. And also he took my hard drives and stuff with him, so we could secure all the materials. And when I spoke with the director, Mads Brügger, he was like, "Wow, this has never been done before." And we thought this can't be more crazy than this. We can't do anything more.
[00:16:12] Jordan Harbinger: Right, but then—
[00:16:13] Ulrich Larsen: Until, yeah.
[00:16:14] Jordan Harbinger: But, then things get even more crazy, right?
[00:16:16] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. Alejandro came up with this — actually in the beginning, I thought it was a fake person. He had amended to have money, but he told us that he has contacted a Jordanian businessman who is named Mr. Hisham Al-Dasouqi. And he could provide us fuel. And if we could buy the fuel from Mr. Dasouqi, he will ship it to North Korea without being caught. And then the fuel would give us weapons, all things to do with weapons.
[00:16:46] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So this is a triangle deal. So you would pay money to Jordan, which is legal, the country of Jordan. And he would ship fuel illegally to North Korea without getting caught, which would give you guys like store credit with the North Korean arms company, which would then ship weapons to some other country.
[00:17:05] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah, well, the plan was to open a factory in Uganda, on an island, and they would send the know-how and people over to build the whole thing in Uganda. The plan was to buy an island in Victoria Lake in Uganda, and the North Korean did perfect architectural drawings of this factory, how we can build it. And actually we could have an airstrip there so we can fly things in and out. You know, paying the Ugandan people money to give their mouth shut and fly out in the world. And we're just like, "This can't be happening, but do we trust that Mr. Dasouqi is the right guy? Does he exist?" And I just took my phone asking for a phone number. Yes, it was him. And he was like a perfect criminal actually. He looks like a real movie criminal or something. Going to Jordan and meeting up with him was like, you know, meeting Alejandro number two but in Jordan. Everything was possible. He actually wanted me to be his area manager in Europe for his company, he said, for their big plants and stuff.
[00:18:09] Jordan Harbinger: This is wild.
[00:18:09] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:18:10] Jordan Harbinger: They want you to build a factory in Uganda on an island. That's literally underground, right? With a secret airstrip that you can come and go undetected. The factory would build weapons and apparently also methamphetamine. Why not? For sale on the international market. So you're using North Korean workers and scientists, buying an island in Lake Victoria to hide the air traffic. The factory is literally underground. But the problem is there are thousands of people or at least hundreds living on the island, and the North Korean agents were like, "Ooh, don't worry. We do this elsewhere in Asia and Africa," which by the way, like intelligence officers take note of that statement that they claimed to anyway, have secret factories elsewhere in Asia, in Africa that manufacture weapons and methamphetamine.
[00:18:57] And I would imagine, how did you feel at this point, right? Because you/they are telling the people that live there, "We're going to build a hospital on the island for you." But the real plan is that the government comes in with the police or the military and kicks all of these people out of their homes so that you can build a missile factory and a meth factory on their island.
[00:19:16] Ulrich Larsen: Well, that was actually one of the worst moments for me in the whole project because coming out to this island where people literally don't have anything. They live from fish from the lake and they have a few cows, yeah, they don't have anything. And to stand with them and have one of their own people telling them that, "These two people here are here because they want to give you a hospital. So you need to cooperate with them. And we have to pray to God that this will be a great hospital and a great future." Maybe three months later when Mr. James had transferred the money, which he never did, of course. They would just kick them out. They will have four to eight weeks to find a new place to live. It will be impossible for them because they don't have anything. They have a small church, which was literally just stone and a few windows. And you were sitting on the ground. I literally just wanted to throw those real estate brokers into the sea, hoping that they got caught by a crocodile or fish or whatever, just to eat them up because it was so cruel. And they were just like, "Let's pray together the whole time." And they were with their children. Like, "Ooh, you will have a hospital here. So when you play football, you can come there with your food." And the children were like, "Wow." And it was—
[00:20:35] Jordan Harbinger: Evil.
[00:20:35] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:20:36] Jordan Harbinger: It's evil. Yeah.
[00:20:37] Ulrich Larsen: It was hell in my head, that trip, because every time I saw those real estate brokers, I literally just wanted to kill them.
[00:20:47] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Ulrich, The Mole. We'll be right back.
[00:20:51] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help online therapy. As we begin to see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel, a lot of people are still feeling down and emotionally out of sorts. You might not feel depressed or at a total loss, but if you're feeling a bit off or your relationships are suffering, that could be a sign that you should talk to somebody. Whether you're feeling anxious or you're struggling in your career, or you're having trouble sleeping, online therapy can help. Visit betterhelp.com/jordan. Fill out a questionnaire. Help better help assess your needs and match you with a professional licensed therapist. You can start communicating in under 48 hours via secure weekly video phone, or even live chat sessions with your therapist. Better Help is committed to facilitating great matches. So it's easy and free to change counselors if you need a better fit. Online therapy is convenient and more affordable than in-person therapy. No driving, no parking, all from the comfort of your home.
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[00:23:13] Jordan Harbinger: Now, back to Ulrich Larsen, The Mole, on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:23:19] These are evil people that are willing to destroy the lives of thousands of people so that they can make a commission off of the money. And not just destroy those lives of the people there, but they're building a factory that's going to distribute weapons and drugs that will kill thousands, tens of thousands of more people. And they just want to make money. I mean, these are the worst kind of humans. Of course, somehow this wasn't even the end of the saga. Things get even more intense, right? The North Korean agents reached out and now they want to ship arms to Syria. They want to ship possibly chemical weapons and maybe even nuclear weapons to the Syrian regime in the middle of this civil war. It's really telling because during the documentary in The Mole, the North Korean agents mentioned, "Hey, since ISIS is now gone, we're running low on customers." Like when I heard that, I just thought, "Do you hear yourself?" I mean, even when you're North Korean, you got to look at ISIS and go, "Those guys are a little f*cked up. No, thank you."
[00:24:17] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. Well, when I heard that I was not in the car when he said that it was Mr. James and he told me about it, he was like, "We need to stop this soon because the next phase is to give them money." And then suddenly Mr. James disappeared, because the next step for us was to transfer money both for the oil and to the island, and maybe have some cash upfront. But the North Korean wanted to meet up with us again and send people to Copenhagen to sign an updated contract. So we rented a suite in the Hotel d’Angleterre, which is the most beautiful hotel in Copenhagen and in the whole of Denmark. It is a really great place. And there came two men and they were there because they were trying to find tourists in Europe to do an agreement with tourists to travel to North Korea. But he was also coming just to sign a weapons contract with us and it was professionally done. And then Mr. James said, "Well, I need to order like 10,000 AK-47 and some rounds and that's it." And he was just taking notes in Korean on the paper and we'll bring that back. And from then on, Mr. James became a ghost, so he just disappeared.
[00:25:32] But then I had to go for a year talking with Alejandro, Mr. Dasouqi, the North Koreans, to tell Mr. James is gone. I can get in contact with him. That was difficult because Alejandro, he wanted to move on. Of course, he said, "Well, I know people like James. Let's just find some new one, he's just a bad guy." And it was very difficult because Mr. Dasouqi threatened with a court justice. He rethinks the whole thing through and wrote to me, "Well, I can't do that because I'm breaking the law myself.”
[00:26:06] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Like, "Nice bluff. But you're the one offering to sell fuel illegally to North Korea so that they can send weapons and meth. Maybe you don't want to freaking put that in writing, genius."
[00:26:15] Ulrich Larsen: And then I just kept on speaking with them. And I had a meeting in Copenhagen for the KFA, the international meeting, a new meeting, and Alejandro couldn't come because his passport is detained.
[00:26:29] Jordan Harbinger: So the Sspanish government has revoked Alejandro's passport so he can no longer travel.
[00:26:34] Ulrich Larsen: No, they actually did that back in 2016. He hasn't left Spain since, not that I know of. I don't know if he has this now, but I don't think so. But you know, having that meeting, I knew that it won't be long until we have to tell the truth to Alejandro. But at that meeting, I presented a model of the hotel project in Uganda, telling those people about it. And it was a risk for me. It was a plan for risk because I was expecting when I put that up to people taking pictures, Alejandro would kick me out of KFA, but he didn't. It was like he loved me even more. He just sent me a note, "Please take that away again," and well, I did. And the other people did so — but nothing happened with my status. And then I revealed it to my wife before telling Alejandro and probably the worst thing was to tell my wife the truth.
[00:27:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. How did she react? I mean, she must've been so pissed off because she didn't know the whole time, right?
[00:27:37] Ulrich Larsen: No. Well, what she knew is I was traveling, of course, but she's never interested in politics. So she has never asked me any questions, really. When I told her we did it in our own home and Mads Brügger, the director, was with me. It was literally like two small school children sitting with the principal's office, who have been doing something bad for the school. She was, of course, shocked. But as I said, "I couldn't tell you what I was doing, because then you wouldn't let me go. Or you will simply sit at home, be a nerve-wracking wife the whole time. And for that, she was quite thankful that I didn't tell her because of the kids, of course. And so she didn't have to, but then she thought I was an idiot. But she also said that the last year I was going a bit in myself, you know, being more calm at home, you know, more closed and don't speak a lot because I have so many things in my mind. After I told her, it was the plan to tell Alejandro, but then COVID hit in Denmark also, so we actually had to wait until September. And when I revealed it to Alejandro, I told him the story that I was going to school in Copenhagen to talk about North Korea. And they have asked if he could participate also from assumed connection, because they wanted to ask him questions because he was the president of KFA.
[00:28:57] Jordan Harbinger: So your plan is to tell Alejandro what's going on so that he doesn't find out when the movie comes out and you want to do it on Zoom.
[00:29:05] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:29:06] Jordan Harbinger: Because it's COVID and you don't have a choice, right?
[00:29:08] Ulrich Larsen: No. And actually, I think Zoom was the best thing, because if we had to go to Spain — because he couldn't travel. It could be more dangerous for me if we met up with him or something.
[00:29:20] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:29:20] Ulrich Larsen: Then I needed to get out of Spain quite fast.
[00:29:22] Jordan Harbinger: He thinks he's about to lecture some college students or high school students about North Korea on Zoom.
[00:29:27] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:29:27] Jordan Harbinger: And you decide to tell him the whole thing is of ruse, the whole 10-year-long saga is you being undercover.
[00:29:34] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah, well, I didn't sleep all night. My wife told me several times, go back to bed or lay down or leave your phone because I was so nervous. And the whole setup, we had to test the cameras and everything. And it was in a suite at the Marriott Hotel in Copenhagen with a fantastic view and everything. So I could relax a bit, lay down on the sofa. And then I said, "Well, Alejandro," on a text message, "Five minutes, and the link will come to you. You can join." I said, "Well, I will sit behind the scene to begin with, just to say hello to you. And we can go in." "Yeah, fine." And he just came on the screen and I was like, "Hi, Alejandro," as you see in The Mole, "I have something to tell you?" And when I tell him it's like, he doesn't believe me, or he is, you know, really surprised. And then Mads Brügger, which he has a story with, who did the first documentary—
[00:30:28] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It's so the director — Alejandro recognizes him because Mads Brügger traveled to North Korea with Alejandro, made that documentary that kind of got Alejandro a little bit of trouble.
[00:30:37] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:30:37] Jordan Harbinger: You know, the North Koreans were not a fan of this satirical movie that he made. That's like his enemy, right?
[00:30:43] Ulrich Larsen: I mean, he's been talking about him many times with me. "That if I ever meet him in Denmark, I should smash his face.” Or we talked about earlier, he should be thrown in the mine to work. I don't think the first five seconds, when Mads Brügger goes into the screen with me, he doesn't know who it is, but then he starts to speak with him. And I think it takes around 20 seconds. He was just lifting his hand like this, and the pictures freeze. 10, maybe 20 minutes later, my name was deleted on every page from KFA and Danish Friendship Association. The funny part is an hour later my phone keeps ringing and it's the embassy.
[00:31:22] Jordan Harbinger: The North Korean embassy in Stockholm.
[00:31:24] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:31:24] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Okay. And this is right after you exposed — came out from under your cover.
[00:31:29] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:31:30] Jordan Harbinger: What are you thinking at that point when your phone is ringing and it's the North Korean embassy in Stockholm?
[00:31:34] Ulrich Larsen: Well, I just ignored it, of course. And then the next day I got a new phone, new phone number, everything. And then the funny part is when The Mole has this premier, the North Koreans tell the media, first, they don't know who I am, never heard of me. A few hours later, they made a new statement that I came to the embassy with the papers to them. But you can see on the film that they handed all of the papers over for me, the drawings of the factory and stuff. And the last thing, the next day was it was all just a big lie.
[00:32:07] So first, they don't know me, then they knew me, and then all was just a big lie from us. But of course, they were under pressure from North Korean regime in Pyongyang, of course, and Danish and Swedish Foreign Ministers went out to stay a distance from all of these. And they wanted a deep undergoing investigation of how the North Korean Embassy is used to provide weapons and arms dealing and be a part of those projects.
[00:32:32] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Because now the embassy is clearly not there to facilitate anything other than get money to the North Korean regime, sell weapons, conduct business deals. Embassies do a lot of things, and running sanctions and dealing in methamphetamine and weapons sales is probably not one of the main things that they're supposed to be doing in Sweden.
[00:32:52] Ulrich Larsen: Well, once again, it just shows that the North Koreans do whatever it takes to get money, weapons, fuel, food, anything. It just started. It was a Sunday evening. It was re-premiered in the television and in the cinema. And we had a special screening in Copenhagen for the press and celebrity people in Denmark. But in the morning, around 8:30, we slept long, my daughter came in, "Dad, dad, you're on the TV." And I was like, "Now?" It's an evening and all the news were just my face and I've been doing some interviews up to the Danish broadcasting service who was broadcasting the film in the evening.
[00:33:32] And my Twitter and Facebook exploded with messages. I had like more than 4,000 messages on Twitter. I actually deleted every single one of them because it was impossible. And now, still new people are following me on Twitter and Instagram, because it's being broadcasted in several countries around the world all the time. And I have a few hate messages, of course. And they are located around Spain, funny enough, and a few from the US actually as well. There's some hardcore diehard North Korean supporters in America.
[00:34:07] Jordan Harbinger: Huh?
[00:34:08] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:34:08] Jordan Harbinger: I guess it's a large country. There's all kinds of weirdos. You think this would be a place where they'd know better?
[00:34:13] Ulrich Larsen: One of them is from San Diego and the other one is from the Midwest and the one from the Midwest is a lady. She wrote to me. I've been talking with her online for years, you know, with messages in groups with North Korea. And she's always been very polite to me and very comrades as we like to call ourselves. And then she said, "Well, you've got your F minutes of fame, but remember the Internet will never forget and we'll get you someday." and then the other one was like, "Well, you're the biggest clown on earth." And then he wrote, "I got more money than you." And I was like—
[00:34:45] Jordan Harbinger: Weird flex.
[00:34:47] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. What has the money to do with this? I did it for free. I haven't got even one dollar to doing this project. So for me, it's got nothing to do with the money, but, you know, they just react in anger.
[00:35:00] Jordan Harbinger: Also weird of a hardcore socialist supporter of North Korea to be talking about how much money he has. It's not very socialist of him.
[00:35:06] Ulrich Larsen: No, exactly. I think even some of those people supporting North Korea don't know the difference between a socialist and a capitalist.
[00:35:14] Jordan Harbinger: I think these are just sort of contrarians that are having a bad life.
[00:35:17] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah.
[00:35:17] Jordan Harbinger: And they go, "Eeh, I'm going to vote for the underdog." They don't really understand, or even have the emotional intelligence to be able to understand what they're supporting.
[00:35:25] Ulrich Larsen: Actually, there were one message, which I thought a bit about. Now, it was my fault that the sanction will go even harder to North Korea and the people will starve even more. And I was like, well, maybe but still they will always have food from World Health Organizations and stuff like that. They won't change that, but all the other things will probably be changed.
[00:35:48] And the worst is before The Mole premiered in the cinema, I got an email and it was from United Nation. And I was like, "What?" It was after I revealed it to Alejandro between there and the premier and then I said, "Somebody is making a joke with me." And then they attached a picture of me standing at that annual meeting with this model of the hotel in North Korea. And actually I'm in the report from September of United Nations, the UN panel of North Korea. There's a picture of me in their report facilitating this factory in Uganda, in African countries. And they just caught my eyes, but that Patriot was probably online for three, four hours, but that was enough for United Nation to somehow snap that picture. When I look back now, it's strange that I haven't been contacted by any intelligence.
[00:36:45] Jordan Harbinger: It's very strange. It's very strange.
[00:36:47] Ulrich Larsen: Even though I went to the US as well but on the other hand, maybe they knew what I was doing. They have hacked emails, I don't know. And just followed off the side and said, "Okay, if this gets dangerous, we just get him out or something like that." I don't know.
[00:37:03] Jordan Harbinger: I wouldn't count on that. I mean, maybe they do have access to some of your stuff. Sure. But they still don't know who you recognize and what people's names are. I mean, that's what they have me doing, like, "Hey, do you recognize this person?" "Oh yeah, she's the daughter of this person." "Okay." They already know that, but they're just making sure. And they want to see, does she give a different name when she's dealing with foreigners? Does she give her different names when she's dealing with tourists? They wouldn't know that because they have to talk to you about that. So I'm not so sure why that hasn't happened yet. It's also very possible that after podcasts and media and things like this, there are a lot of intelligence agents and special forces and United Nations staff that listened to and watched The Jordan Harbinger Show. So it's possible that this is something they'll go, "Hey, are you guys are on this, right?" "Uh, yeah." Maybe we'll have a chat with them. I mean, that wouldn't surprise me at all. It seems like they should absolutely be working with you on this. I mean, look, this is North Korea trying to avoid sanctions on fuel and weapons and promoting instability across the world, contributing to a genocide in Syria by trying to buy missile systems and chemical weapons. I mean, this is a very serious allegation for which you have plenty of evidence and proof. So it's not just a bunch of hearsay.
[00:38:12] Ulrich Larsen: Every night, approximately 25 million North Korean inhabitants are going to bed, and they go to bed with fear and hunger and they wake up in the morning with fear and hunger. I would love to be one of the persons who could smash a hole through the whole border to bring justice to the North Korean people, because no people should live like they do in North Korea.
[00:38:35] One of the things that I always get back to is there could be tens of thousands of people walking on the street and you saw it yourself, they don't speak with each other. It's like they fear each other to talk. You should not live in a country like this, but I know they will say, "Our great leaders take care of us and without him, we will live in really bad country." So I really hope that I could be one of the people helping that to happen one day. It will be very difficult to do in that point because you can't just put those — I don't think you can reunify the north and south. I think there will be too much hate actually from the north still and it needs to be a really long way to do and bring in a normal country if we can use those words, because it's just a bad place to be.
[00:39:24] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Ulrich Larsen, The Mole. We'll be right back.
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[00:42:51] Don't forget we have worksheets for many episodes. If you want some of the drills, exercises, or takeaways from a lot of the guests here on the show, we put those all in one easy place as well. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. And now for the rest of my conversation with Ulrich Larsen, The Mole.
[00:43:10] It's going to take, full on at least, a generation, and it would take an international effort. The South Korea can't bear the brunt of this. We have to get help from China, the US, the United Nations. We have to build it. I mean, we have to build telephone lines and power lines and water, running water. We have to develop the infrastructure, build universities, and educational system. That's not just propaganda about the leadership, that's actual knowledge and things like that. We have to start from scratch, and then also make sure that the people are gainfully employed and being trained. I mean, it's going to take a whole generation and then some to change all of that.
[00:43:46] Ulrich Larsen: I remember the same thing with Germany. There are still actually problems in Germany. And it's still what, 32 years ago, because in East Germany, you had a job, you have a car. You have those things. And then in the west, you had to work to have money and houses. So all the things, yeah, as you said it could take generations.
[00:44:07] Jordan Harbinger: East Germany and West Germany were a hell of a lot more similar than North and South Korea. And they were separated for a lot less time. East Germany and West Germany, they had electricity in East Germany. They had running water in East Germany. They had an education system that wasn't too bad in East Germany. They had industry, heavy industry in East Germany. They had a lot of oppression, but they could write to people outside the country. They could make telephone calls. They could receive mail and parcels from international destinations. I mean, it's different, but it's not a different universe. North Korea is a different universe, especially when compared to South Korea. One of the only things they have in common now is the language and even that's different.
[00:44:47] Ulrich Larsen: Actually, yeah, that's right. Because some person who said that if a South Korean goes to North Korea, it's very difficult to communicate because all those terms and slang you use now, they don't know what it means.
[00:45:02] Jordan Harbinger: And it's very formal.
[00:45:03] Ulrich Larsen: I know they have mobile phone in Pyongyang now.
[00:45:06] Jordan Harbinger: Finally, yeah.
[00:45:07] Ulrich Larsen: But they asked me if I wanted a SIM card for my phone when I was there last time. I said, "Oh no, I'm fine. I don't want to put anything from your thing into my telephone." I couldn't use it anyway. I could call inside North Korea, but to who? The guide is with me the whole time anyway and I couldn't call back home.
[00:45:24] Jordan Harbinger: There's no Internet for your phone. There's no international calls. Now, I think you can get some Internet, but it's like, you know, you buy one gig for 20 euros or something like that, and it's still limited. It doesn't really make any sense.
[00:45:34] How do you go from a decade undercover, multiple identities. I guess, you're still yourself, but not really jet setting with arms dealers or fake arms dealers. Well, fake and real arms dealers. How do you go back to your normal life after that?
[00:45:47] Ulrich Larsen: Oh, that's not so normal anymore because I get recognized on the street. I can't go out shopping without people watching. Denmark is a small country.
[00:45:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:45:58] Ulrich Larsen: Well, in the beginning, I was not aware of it. But when I started to went into 2018, I could barely see from it. They start to add in a bit also, okay. When this comes out, I'm not just a normal person anymore. I'm a known person in Denmark now. And people are nice to me and wanted to have selfies and those kinds of things. It's very nice and I want to say how brave I was. And also many people say, "Are you still with your wife?"
[00:46:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:46:26] Ulrich Larsen: "Did she beat you up?" I say, "No, no. I'm still with my wife. I love her a lot. And hopefully, she loves me just as much as I love her and my children."
[00:46:35] My soccer team, favorite soccer team, actually last week won the Danish championship for the first time in 16 years and I was invited as a famous person in Denmark to speak on the line during the match and before the match about my relationships, with the clap. And I came all the way into the pitch when they had the trophy and stuff. So that's the kind of benefit I had. And then here, as I said earlier, I have to go out for a national tour in Denmark to tell my story. And hopefully, I will go to Norway right after. And I'm planning to go to the US as well to tell my story.
[00:47:11] Jordan Harbinger: I would love to see that. Are you worried that the North Korean agents might come after you? I mean, they've assassinated their enemies abroad before for existing and not even doing anything against the regime? Kim Jong-un had his brother murdered at an airport in Malaysia, and that guy wasn't even — he had no plans to go back to North Korea. He wasn't interested in going back to North Korea. He had nothing to do with North Korea any more. And they went and killed him with a chemical weapon agent, chemical agent in an airport and in a public place. I mean, that kind of has to keep you up at night, I would imagine.
[00:47:43] Ulrich Larsen: When The Mole premiered, we went to a safe house, me and my family. Then meanwhile, we had security doors and camera surveillance and all those kinds of things. And when I go out in public, when people know I will come, I have my bodyguard with me. And of course, the North Korean doesn't have a story, as I know to go for foreign people outside North Korea. But of course, this is a bit different than others.
[00:48:08] Jordan Harbinger: There's a first time for everything, Ulrich, right?
[00:48:10] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah, exactly. And I have this agreement with my family and if we're out in a shopping center or just out for a walk or out for dinner, if people go to me and talk with me or getting angry with me, they should just walk away and do what they have to do, maybe call the police, and then I would try to handle myself. But of course, if I go out, I will always have to tell the Danish Intelligence that I'll be in this place. Then they will make a decision if they have to be there or not. But still now, in Denmark, I have only been talking with people who were really fascinated about my story. I'm sure I could have beers for the rest of my life, getting drunk each day for people offering me a free beer for what I did.
[00:48:53] I just can't wait to get out and tell my story and all the things that were not in The Mole. There's so many side stories and what I was thinking in those situations and how I reacted when I came home and the jokes we did around. I went out two times to speak to people, and then COVID in Denmark, it was completely shutted down, but the people attending were just sitting with their open-mouths. And I could speak for hours and you have to say, "Hey, the time is up now."
[00:49:24] I could speak if I wanted to, and I said, "Well, okay, if you want to ask me questions, I'll just sit." And I think we spent three and a half hours and I was supposed to do two hours because I took time for the people. I think it's an important story to tell, because this regime has to stop better yesterday than tomorrow because people are not supposed to live in evilness like this.
[00:49:48] Jordan Harbinger: And our time is up as well. I do wonder if there's any one thing that wasn't in the documentary where you said, "Look, this is just crazy and you have to hear this." Do we have time for one more anecdote?
[00:49:59] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. It's a funny story in Pyongyang. I was there with Mr. James in January and it was minus, I don't know what it's in Fahrenheit, but it's minus 21 degrees Celsius.
[00:50:10] Jordan Harbinger: Really cold, yeah, either way.
[00:50:12] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah. The Taedong River was frozen and out on the ice where people are banging holes in the ice and sit fishing.
[00:50:21] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:50:21] Ulrich Larsen: And Mr. James asked the first day, "Why are they sitting there?" And we knew, of course, they were trying to find fish or something. And Mr. Kang said, "Well, they are just having a meeting." "Ah, okay." Then the next day, or the day after, we've been passing people. They are still sitting there and then Mr. James said, "Now, I know why they are sitting there." And then I was like, "Oh, stop it. Don't say you know what they are doing searching for food or something because that would offend the North Koreans. And then he skipped like this and broke and he said, "Well it's because their balls had frozen onto the ice so they can't get up until springtime." And the funny part is Mr. Kang, like he wouldn't translate it. And I just, you know, bang him, you know, like this, I say, "Come on, just translate it. This is fun." And he just told it in Korean to — I don't know if it was an officer or something. And this officer was like, looking at him, looked out on the people, and then he was like completely laughing. And then just grab his hand and grab his balls, he would say, "Ooh, no." I was like that was just like an icebreaker, if you can use that word. But the humor was so important for me and James because we can keep it intern, but you know, also there's always a North Korean near you when you're in North Korea.
[00:51:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's true. It's weird that they wouldn't admit it to ice fishing. I mean, people do that in the United States and they're not starving. They enjoy it. Like they could easily not lie. That's one thing I noticed about North Korea is they can easily not lie and it would be totally fine, but they will choose to lie about something that is totally innocuous because they just want to be damn sure that you don't have a negative impression of the place.
[00:51:59] Ulrich Larsen: But I think it was because there were so many people. I think it was a bit out of the city. And I think there were, that's hard to say 400 people maybe, but of course I knew that we're speaking together and talking because as they probably didn't do anyway, because they fear each other, but they were fishing. But you know, they always sit down and in this particular way, and Mr. James came up with the idea that the ball was stuck on the ice because it was that cold. But yeah, there are so many, many crazy stories during the years. And then are all the bad stories, of course, in Uganda and how they treat people. But actually one of the people from the government who attended the meeting has been arrested.
[00:52:42] Jordan Harbinger: The Ugandan guys.
[00:52:43] Ulrich Larsen: Yeah, the Ugandan guys. I think his name was Moses.
[00:52:47] Jordan Harbinger: Was he the real estate agent or whatever?
[00:52:49] Ulrich Larsen: No, he was from the government.
[00:52:50] Jordan Harbinger: Oh from the government.
[00:52:52] Ulrich Larsen: He's been arrested for fraud. So that's great. But I don't know about the real estate broker, but you know, white people in Uganda, it could be really uncommon if you walk around alone, because we were told not to walk with our phones in our hands, or actually just keep our hands in the pocket on our belongings because yeah, they would steal, everything.
[00:53:14] Jordan Harbinger: Jeez.
[00:53:14] Ulrich Larsen: And actually in Jordan, when we came, there were four people in total and we had paid a lot of money for the visa. And then they said, "Well, there is a problem, because normally four person do not travel with the commercial airlines, they will go with a travel company or something to Jordan," but we came with four men. Then we were asked to go into an office and in that office was like, you see in an old movie, there was a chair and a table. And there was a phone with a line on like real old school. And he was questioning, "What are you doing here?" I said, "Oh, we're going to have business with Mr. Dasouqi." Then suddenly, the phone rang on the table and then they speak Arabic or what is big. And he said, "Oh, okay, welcome to Jordan." I was like, "Okay."
[00:54:04] Then it was because we hired a security guy in Denmark. We had a Jordanian security guy who's been a member of the Jordanian Intelligence Service. And he saw that our plane had landed one hour ago and he was, "Why are they not still here?" And he just called him and verified for us. So we just got out. To be in that situation, not knowing what's going to happen, except that we might have something almost super related to the North Koreans and could relate to Mr. Dasouqi. And if they open up our backs with the cameras and stuff, we'll be a bit bad place to get caught as well.
[00:54:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So they were interrogating you in the Jordanian airport. And then as soon as the things started getting heavy, the phone rings and it's the intelligence guy saying, "Hey, we're waiting for these guys. What's the hold up?" "Oh, okay. Sorry. Yeah, let them go."
[00:54:53] Ulrich Larsen: Just go, then go. Yeah. And then, it is a fantastic country, so beautiful that Jordan as well, but criminals are all over. Follow the money.
[00:55:02] Jordan Harbinger: Follow the money, man.
[00:55:06] I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that, here's a preview with ethical hacker Harri Hursti about how vulnerable our election systems are to being hacked by enemies of the state and why we should all be concerned no matter what team we're rooting for. On this episode, Harri takes us through how secure or insecure our voting technology really is and explains how we found the vulnerability, what's been fixed so far and what hasn't, and what we as citizens can do about this to ensure the integrity of our elections and of our democracy.
[00:55:36] Harri Hursti: It doesn't matter how much money you spent to have the best military if the war is fought in cyberspace and in election hacking, because that's the way you can influence the government. And that's the way you can influence the minds of the people.
[00:55:49] Jordan Harbinger: Somehow Al Gore had negative 16,000 votes in Florida, only the totals for the presidential race were affected. So it wasn't just a machine failure.
[00:55:58] Harri Hursti: The thing about this explanation afterwards was that the minus 16,000 was malfunction of the memory. Not possible. That memory card doesn't know how to make negative numbers. At least the official explanation given them at the time was not possible, something else happened. I always say that when you are examining any kind of device, whether it's an ATM, whether it's a life support system or voting machine, you always find vulnerabilities.
[00:56:24] Jordan Harbinger: This is not just to get a specific outcome in that election, it's to chip away at democracy itself. Correct?
[00:56:31] Harri Hursti: I mean, it's got to be a nation state who wants to undermine democracy, but it can be a religious group. It can be all kinds of disruptors who just want to create chaos.
[00:56:40] Jordan Harbinger: Is it always Russia or is that something that happens from other countries too?
[00:56:45] Harri Hursti: There are certain big countries, Russia, China, Iran, which are the big three. And after that, the North Korea and the usual suspects underneath, but it's never only one country. Email, FTP with no security, these are the common methods to send the most mission critical programming from the private company, which might be out of state to the local county who is putting into the machines. And it is whoever controls that data, controls the election.
[00:57:15] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including why electronic voting machines are more vulnerable to fraudulent manipulation than mail-in ballots, check out episode 405 on The Jordan Harbinger Show with Harri Hursti.
[00:57:28] An unbelievable story. I mean, there's a lot we could have gone into my impressions of North Korea. I've done a whole episode on that. That's actually two episodes on that episode 435 and 436. I've talked about my time in the DPRK in North Korea extensively.
[00:57:45] One thing that struck me was just how thin the veneer is in that place. Like you'd be eating this lavish meal and then you poke a hole in a fish that you didn't want to eat because it looked a little bit outside your comfort zone, let's say. And then that same fish with the same hole would show up on a plate two or three days later, or sadly, you'd leave half eaten on your plate. And then you'd peek into the kitchen and you'd see the staff eating it as fast as could before washing the plates. There's a lot of sort of tragic tales that come just small little things that you see when you're there for long enough. And we'll have to have Ulrich back on the show because offline, we had a couple of other crazy stories, like a very close call at the shooting range where they found out their tour guide could basically hit the bulls-eye blindfolded and could do all these crazy Taekwondo kicks. Some tour guide, huh?
[00:58:31] One thought I had about this episode that I wanted to ask, but didn't, was that Mr. James, right? He travels to Beijing to meet with North Korean arms dealers. But at that point, you're not really in Kansas anymore. I mean, you got to be worried about Chinese Intelligence who by all accounts are very competent intelligence and counterintelligence agents. And they're shining a light on you guys, right? They probably don't want North Korean arms dealers doing business all the time in China. They certainly don't want some chubby dude from Spain playing 007. They don't want a retired chef in there facilitating the whole thing with an actor from Denmark, who's supposed to be some kind of billionaire. I mean, this was just in my opinion, a very near miss. Chinese Secret Services are the real deal. These guys are no joke and they were just toyed with, I think they're going to be pretty pissed about this, and I'd be much more scared of Chinese Intelligence than I would be North Korean arms dealers or security forces or intelligence.
[00:59:21] Big thank you to Ulrich The Mole. We'll link to him in the show notes. Please use our website links if you buy books from any guest on the show. That link works internationally, they work for audiobooks as well. Worksheets for this episode are in the show notes. Transcripts are in the show notes and there's a video of this interview going up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. We've also got a brand new clips channel with cuts that don't make it to the show. A lot of highlights that you can't see anywhere else. jordanharbinger.com/clips is where you can find that channel. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or just hit me on LinkedIn.
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[01:00:20] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My amazing 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 this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's into wild stories, interested in North Korea, or even the illicit arms trade, definitely share this episode with them. Hopefully, you find something great in every episode of The Jordan Harbinger 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.
[01:00:59] And special, thanks to Hyundai for sponsoring this episode.
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