North Korea asks for ban of THE INTERVIEW

A pirated copy of THE INTERVIEW
A pirated copy of THE INTERVIEW sits on the shelves of a DVD store in Phnom Penh yesterday. Eli Meixler

North Korea asks for ban of THE INTERVIEW

The North Korean Embassy has called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take action to ban the sale and display of the film The Interview, a raunchy American comedy that depicts the death of the hermit kingdom’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un.

According to a copy of a letter from foreign affairs secretary of state Long Visalo to Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, the sale and broadcast of the film would be considered tantamount to an act of aggression against the isolated state.

“The Embassy of the [Democratic People’s] Republic of Korea in Phnom Penh had requested that Cambodia take measures to ban the sale of this movie, and has requested it not to be broadcast by television stations in Cambodia, or play in movie theatres in Cambodia,” said the January 20 letter, which was obtained yesterday.

“The Korean side has considered any activities [of sales and broadcasting] as a conspiracy by an adversarial force that will cause a break in the good cultural relationship of the two countries.”

A copy of the North Korean diplomatic note, also obtained yesterday, noted that bootleg copies of the movie are widely available around Phnom Penh.

“[The] Interview recently produced by US advocating openly the terrorism against our Supreme headquarter is an insult on the dignity of our Supreme Leadership and causes the greatest rage of our people,” the embassy wrote in English.

“This is generated by the plot of the hostile forces manipulating to break the long traditional friendship between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the DPR Korea, whereas this is against the international law and the law of the Kingdom of Cambodia in which any political propaganda or activity against a third country is strictly prohibited.”

Kanharith, of the Information Ministry, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Ministry adviser Ouk Kimseng said he was unaware of what action, if any, Kanharith would take, but said that so far, no television channels in Cambodia have broadcast the film.

“I am not sure about the decision of my minister, because the measure would likely involve the relevant ministries, such as the ministries of culture, commerce and interior,” Kimseng said.

Thai Norak Sathya, secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture, said that his ministry had not yet seen the letter but “will call for a meeting next week to study to find out the resolution”.

The Interview was at the centre of a massive cyberattack in the US – purportedly carried out by the North Korean government – in which private emails, salaries and even unfinished films from Sony, the studio behind the Seth Rogen-James Franco vehicle, were leaked.

Plans to release the film on Christmas Day were initially scuttled entirely after the hackers threatened attacks on movie theatres that opted to show the film.

Federal authorities, however, determined the threats to be empty, and US President Barack Obama chided Sony for its decision not to release the film, which it ultimately reversed.

A US Embassy spokesman yesterday declined to comment on any measures to ban the film in Cambodia.

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