The far-right French comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala and writer Alain Soral have been invited to North Korea to hold a show on September 9, the tour guide responsible for the trip has told NK News.
Both hold criminal convictions in France. Dieudonné, who is commonly known by his first name in France, has been tried in court on over 10 different occasions for separate incidents linked to hate speech, defamation, racism, anti-semitism, Holocaust denial, and inciting racial and religious hatred.
Dieudonné has been banned from the UK, denied entry to Canada, sentenced in Belgium, and former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls sought to ban his performances as a public health risk.
Alain Soral, a former communist, has earned fines and a jail sentence for comments about the Holocaust.
Dieudonné has said he aims to hold a private show at what he calls a “peace festival,” and claims he has also appealed to the South Korean government to “help the two Koreas get together,” but has so far not heard from Seoul.
“When all diplomatic ways seem to have failed, we are going to try the path of artistic emotion,” said Dieudonné, in a video posted on his Youtube channel earlier in the month. “The One who controls events seems to have charged me, Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala with a mission: to spread peace by making my contemporaries laugh.”
“Serious people can’t reach peace so maybe artists should take charge,” he added. “Artists from all over the world there is no better place to spread peace than in front of U.S. bombs.”
“There is no better place in the world than the epicenter of war tensions to let the hope of peace blossom from the artistic emotion… I am against war, that’s why I’m going.”
Nils from French tour company Noko Redstar, who is organizing the trip, declined to give his full name to NK News.
“The Koreans call me Mr. Nils,” he said in an email.
Bollo Nils – as he is named in publicly available information about his website – is a self-described coordinator between the DPRK state-run Korean International Sports Travel Company (KISTC) and French tourists, and told NK News that 27 people had booked a tour and a spot at the show so far.
“I am against war, that’s why I’m going”
The delegation will attend mass dances and celebrations of the Day of the Foundation of the Republic on September 9, as well as attend a football match at the May Day Stadium before holding a private show. They will also go to the DMZ for a “chain of peace”.
According to the itinerary posted on the Noko Redstar website, the group will visit super markets, a funfair, as well as the Victorious War Museum in Pyongyang and the Koryo museum in Kaesong.
— Noko Redstar (@NokoRedstar) August 22, 2017
“Yesterday, the empire started their war provocations. World Peace is more than ever under threat. Dieudonné Peace counts on you!”
Dieudonné is notorious in his home country for, among other things, his song “Shoananas”: a portmanteau of “Shoa”, the Hebrew word for the Holocaust, and “ananas”, the French word for pineapple. He has described public monuments to the Holocaust as “memorial pornography.”
Dieudonné also sparked outrage when, referring to a Jewish journalist, he said: “when I hear Patrick Cohen speak, I think to myself: ‘Gas chambers…’”
He also said in 2014 that: “We piss on your institutions, we shit on your government and on your Republic and on your shitty democracy. We are for a coup d’état, done by farce, by non-violence, by the quenelle.”
The “quenelle” is a gesture popularised by Dieudonné and his fans, which some have described as a reverse fascist salute.
Dieudonné meets with perennial French Presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen
Both Dieudonné and Soral also enjoy close ties to the Le Pen family, which has led the far-right Front National party since its creation in the 1970s.
Dieudonne has campaigned for Jean-Marie Le Pen – who holds a conviction in France for describing the Holocaust as a “detail of history” – and is known for his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Earlier this year, Dieudonné and Soral publicly called on their supporters to vote for Marine Le Pen in the presidential elections.
And Soral is just as outspoken as his friend. He has said that “there’s a psychopathology with Zio-Judaism,” and was sentenced to 6 months in prison last year for commenting “this is what happens when you don’t finish the job” in response to an article praising Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, activists who played a major role in capturing Nazi war criminals after World War Two.
He also faces prison time for publishing a cartoon on his website featuring Holocaust denial.
Soral has already traveled to North Korea, making his first visit this July with Noko Redstar.
Nils, who also coordinated that trip, told NK News that Soral was invited by a North Korean organization.
The North Koreans “are very well aware of Dieudonné’s reputation”
The group reportedly visited an animation studio, for reasons Nils said he couldn’t share.
“It was both a personal and business trip,” he explained.
Soral said upon his return to France in July that he might apply for political asylum in North Korea, claiming that he “would face less persecution there than in [his] home country” and that the DPRK authorities respected him because they “also faced persecution.”
This is why, he claimed, he was allowed to visit parts of the country not normally accessible to tourists.
Noko Redstar confirmed that Soral has expressed a desire to appeal to the DPRK authorities for political asylum.
“He has not been very far in the process for now but he has told them that he wanted to get asylum,” Nils told NK News. “He is strongly thinking about it. It might sound ludicrous but there is a chance he really will get it.”
NK News sent questions to Soral, who then informed Nils that he would not provide answers.
— Alain Soral Officiel (@AlainSoralOffic) July 11, 2017
Alain Soral doing the infamous “quenelle” in front of the Pyongyang Arch of Triumph
Nils says that the North Koreans “are very well aware of Dieudonné’s reputation,” and claims that the comedian (whose father is from Cameroon) is a representative of the fight against imperialism and colonialism in Africa: “exactly the emancipation feeling and atmosphere that the DPRK stands for.”
“Two people under the fire of mainstream media might find converging interests – The enemy of my enemy is my friend after all,” he added.
Dieudonné said in a press conference on August 26 at the Théâtre de la Main d’Or in Paris that his dream is for African nations to have the same level of independence as North Korea, and called for the African artistic community to join him and “sing peace” by his side.
Soral, for his part, seems more keen on making a point about what he sees as the French state’s persecution of his views on the Holocaust.
“Praising the leaders in North Korea is the people’s religion, you don’t joke about that… like the Shoa for us in France – except that this ideology is a positive one in North Korea and it is the opposite in France,” he said on a radio show run by his political organization, Égalité et Réconciliation, upon returning from the DPRK at the end of July.
“North Korean women are beautiful… it’s no wonder why the Japanese used them as comfort women,” he added.
If the trip is successful, it seems, this will not be the first time Dieudonné has made connections with international pariahs: he has a well-known friendship with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who in 2015 called the comedian “a great artist.”
Whether the North Koreans will approve of visit is still open for question, of course, and Nils’s claims about Pyongyang’s sympathy for their message are a little hard to believe. And with Dieudonné’s background, there’s a possibility it’s all a joke, designed to provoke a sense of outrage.
But if they do make it, the comedian might find that Pyongyang does not share his sense of humor.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Axis for Peace
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