North Korea zeroes in on ‘The Interview’

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North Korea zeroes in on ‘The Interview’

North Korea has handed down new orders to its diplomats worldwide to stop the circulation of pirated copies of the Hollywood comedy “The Interview,” a senior intelligence official told the JoongAng Ilbo.

Pyongyang issued orders to its 54 diplomatic missions overseas in December that all envoys must stop theatrical screenings of the film, which depicts an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and prevent the circulation of illicit DVDs.

The order was defined as a top diplomatic priority, the source said.

“North Korean diplomats are desperately trying to stop the movie’s circulation,” the source said Wednesday.

The North operates 54 diplomatic missions not only in socialist or communist countries like China, Russia, Vietnam and Cuba, but also Western states including Germany, Italy and Brazil.

The source said North Korean diplomats have sought host governments’ cooperation to stop screenings of the movie in theaters.

They also asked local police to actively crack down on the circulation of illegal DVDs. In some countries, North Korean diplomats are making door-to-door visits to retrieve copies of the movie from black market stores, the source said.

So far, the campaign appears to have had some effect. North Korean Ambassador to Myanmar Kim Sok-chol met with Myint Swe, the chief minister of the Yangon region, on Jan. 11, and local police have begun to enforce a crackdown on pirated copies of “The Interview,” The Irrawaddy news magazine reported.

After Sony Pictures Entertainment released the movie in November, North Korean furiously criticized the United States, saying that U.S. President Barack Obama “always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest.”

After Sony Pictures was hacked, U.S. authorities announced that Pyongyang was behind the cyberattack, and Obama issued an executive order to impose sanctions.

“The hacking of Sony dramatically changed the American people’s perception on North Korea,” a senior South Korean government official said. “At the end of the day, this incident can be considered a turning point in relations between the United States and North Korea.”

BY CHANG SE-JEONG, YOO JI-HYE [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


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