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North Korea says Danish documentary on alleged sanctions-busting 'fabricated'

COPENHAGEN/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - North Korea said on Thursday a Danish documentary that with hidden cameras shows apparent attempts to evade a U.N. ban on arms trading with Pyongyang was completely made up and called on Denmark to find the infiltrator.

FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the 19th Meeting of the Political Bureau of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), in this image released by North Korea's Central News Agency on October 5, 2020. KCNA/via REUTERS

The documentary “is from the beginning to the end a fabricated film which aimed to cast a slur on the image of the DPRK,” the North Korean Embassy in Stockholm said in a letter sent to Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, using the country’s official acronym.

When contacted by Reuters, an official at the embassy declined comment, referring only to the letter sent to Ekstra Bladet.

“The Mole”, by maverick filmmaker Mads Bruegger, charts what he said was a 10-year undercover operation by a retired Danish chef to infiltrate a network of sanctions-breakers linked to the head of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA), an international group that promotes friendly ties with Pyongyang.

In the documentary, the former chef, Ulrich Larsen, pretends to be a supporter of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and joins the Friendship Association, becoming a trusted member.

The film then shows him hiring a former French Foreign Legion soldier to play an arms trader and the two travelling to North Korea for meetings about possible arms deals, apparently winning the trust of North Korean officials.

No deals were consummated before the undercover operation ended. After the documentary was aired on Sunday evening, Bruegger said he was keen to show to interested authorities “an enormous” amount of material not included in the film.

The foreign ministers of Sweden and Denmark said they would raise the issue of sanctions busting at the United Nations and European Union.

The North Korean letter said the embassy was “outraged” by footage in the documentary that shows an embassy official appearing to get involved in illegal activities.

A release of the full recording of the meeting will make it “crystal clear who is telling lies,” the letter said, urging Danish authorities to “solve this issue”.

“(Larsen) is completely out of reach and has disappeared but he must be in Scandinavia or somewhere in Europe and it will be easy for Danish authorities to find him,” the letter added.

The head of the Korean Friendship Association also denied any involvement in alleged sanctions-busting.

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Simon Johnson in Stockholm; Editing by Mark Heinrich