Seth Rogen and James Franco have a new movie coming out, in which the duo play journalists attempting to interview — and assassinate — North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un. It seems though that North Korea is not a fan of the premise of the film. At all.
On Wednesday, KCNA, the communist country’s state media outlet, released a statement attributed to the North Korean Foreign Minister’s spokesman. In it, the spokesman declared the “enemies have gone beyond the tolerance limit in their despicable moves to dare hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).] A preview of a film on insulting and assassinating the supreme leadership of the DPRK is floating in broad daylight in the U.S., a kingpin of international terrorism and its cesspool, shocking the world community.”
In the newest Rogen/Franco movie, titled The Interview, the duo in their attempt to travel to North Korea to interview Kim are recruited by the U.S. government to attempt to assassinate the North Korean leader. It’s very much a comedy, as the trailer full of explosions and tank chases shows, and due for release in October. North Korea isn’t laughing, however, saying, the United States “has gone reckless in such provocative hysteria as bribing a rogue movie maker to dare hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK. This act of not fearing any punishment from Heaven is touching off the towering hatred and wrath of the service personnel and people of the DPRK.”
“Absolutely intolerable is the distribution of such film in the U.S. as it is the most undisguised terrorism and [act of war] to deprive the service personnel and people of the DPRK of their mental mainstay and bring down its social system,” the statement continues, highlighting that North Koreans regard Kim as dearer than their own lives. “Those who defamed our supreme leadership and committed the hostile acts against the DPRK can never escape the stern punishment to be meted out according to a law wherever they might be in the world,” the statement concludes. “If the U.S. administration connives at and patronizes the screening of the film, it will invite a strong and merciless countermeasure.”
While this is the first official statement from North Korea about the film, last week Kim Myong-chol, executive director of The Center for North Korea-US Peace and an unofficial spokesman for North Korea, told the Telegraph that Kim would likely watch the film. “There is a special irony in this storyline as it shows the desperation of the US government and American society,” he said then. “A film about the assassination of a foreign leader mirrors what the US has done in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine,” he added. “And let us not forget who killed [President John F.] Kennedy – Americans,” he said, warning “President [Barack] Obama should be careful in case the US military wants to kill him as well.”
While the plot of The Interview is clearly fictional, in reality North Korea has a rocky history with journalists who have entered the country, seeking to show the Hermit Kingdom to the world. Last year, VICE managed to not only get Dennis Rodman into the country, but gained him an audience with Kim himself. The welcome they received, however, was not very warm at first, even though VICE founder Shane Smith wasn’t with them; Smith was banned for his previous documentary filming in the country. In 2009, North Korea sentenced two American journalists — Laura Ling and Euna Lee — to twelve years in prison for entering the country illegally. It was only through the intervention of former president Bill Clinton that the two were released later that year.
In any case it’s unlikely that The Interview in and of itself will actually do much to injure the non-existent ties between the United States and North Korea. The same day its strongly worded condemnation of the film was released, KCNA also published a condemnation of the U.S. and South Korea’s role in the Korean War, which began fifty years ago this week. The statement, from the National Peace Committee of Korea, declared that as a result of “than 1.2 million guiltless peaceable civilians were massacred in cold blood by barbarous man-killers hell-bent on aggression and man-hunting and mountains and rivers were drenched with human blood.” With that sort of propaganda flying about, the odds of an North Korean-American rapprochement were already low.
That said, North Korea did reportedly test-fire several short-range missiles on Thursday, according to South Korea. “The South Korean official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of department rules, said the projectiles flew about 190 kilometers (120 miles) before harmlessly landing in the water,” the Associated Press reports. “The projectiles were fired from North Korea’s eastern port city of Wonsan, and the South Korean military was investigating the type of projectiles and the North’s intentions, the official said.” The test-firing more probably has to do with the anniversary of the war — which is officially still ongoing — than a pair of American actors.