NK Ups the Ante Against ‘The Interview’

The North Korean authorities are taking all
possible measures to block Sony Picture’s “The Interview,” a controversial film
based on a fictional plot to assassinate Kim Jong Eun, from entering the
country. A recent speech for members of the Party declared that while the viewing of South Korean media content has been tacitly tolerated for some time, going forward,
anyone caught watching foreign films that malign the Supreme Leader [Kim Jong Eun] will face
severe penalties. 

During the lecture the authorities
declared, “We will forgive all those who have watched South Chosun [South
Korean] dramas up until now. But moving forward, the viewing of foreign
materials is strictly prohibited. In particular, those caught viewing materials
from the United States will not be pardoned for even a single transgression,” a
source in North Hamkyung Province reported to Daily NK on January 23rd.  

Acknowledging the outpouring of foreign video
content penetrating the country’s borders, the lectures have
underscored that viewers can expect no absolution, even by a previously reliable method, bribes, a practice which, according to the speech, would “henceforth be useless.”

Bracing for the film’s entry and dissemination within the country, North Korea conducted the presentation as a warning to stave
off widespread circulation and influence. “It would be inconceivable for a
North Korean resident to seek out and view any film which slanders our Highest
Dignity [a common way to refer to Kim Jong Eun],” the speaker at the lecture
said, in reference to the film, which portrays the young leader as an oafish

“We very well may choose to make an example
out of anyone caught watching an American film by sending them to a political
prison camp. In addition, anyone caught carrying the film or distributing it
through underground means might be subject to execution,” the speaker
continued. In addition to these draconian measures, North Korea has tightened
up border control and cracked down on smugglers, as previously reported by
Daily NK

The North also sent an official cable to the Cambodian government,
ultimately successful in urging the nation to avoid broadcasting the film
domestically. “Because the American movie “The Interview” insults our Highest
Dignity and portrays him as the target of a terrorist attack, the contents are
causing our residents to feel intense outrage. Permitting the broadcast of this
movie will threaten to undermine the traditionally friendly relationship
between our two great nations,” the statement read.

However, according to the source, other
methods, namely border tightening and crackdowns, prone to failure in the past,
are unlikely to be successful at blocking the movie’s entry and spread. Myriad routes running across the China-North
Korea exist at this point, bringing in a plethora of South Korean media
content through ever-evolving systems. He pointed out that it would simply be impossible, even for
the extreme measures characteristic of the North Korean authorities, to obstruct all these conduits. Additionally, directly counter to the Party’s intentions,
this lecture will likely serve only to drum up interest in, and increased demand
for, American films.

On the ground, the film’s allure is already
palpable. “It’s impossible to say when or if viewers will be punished for this,
but residents are starting to become more interested in foreign criticism of
the Highest Dignity. Some are requesting related materials through traders who
come and go from China,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, in order to make good on the
threat to severely punish anyone for viewing American films, the organ
responsible for the crackdown appears to be making moves, he added, revealing
that state surveillance agents are demanding that people not charge the
batteries to their EVD players [portable DVD players] in an attempt to ban all
viewing of contraband films through the devices.

“The 109 Group [inspection team regulating
matters concerning South Korean media] and other groups affiliated with
the crackdown will conduct midnight raids and searches on people’s homes in
order to find the batteries and discs in question. If the batteries have been
charged, the authorities will, at the very least, confiscate any discs or films
with outside content found on the premises,” the source concluded.

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