New Hollywood assassination film raises hackles in North Korea

North Korea says the film shows the “desperation” of American society, as it tells the tale of two US journalists who are given the opportunity to interview North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un, then recruited by the CIA to assassinate him.

James Franco and Seth Rogen in a still from The Interview, 2014. Courtesy Columbia Pictures
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The Interview, a new action comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, has elicited choice comments from North Korea for showing the "desperation" of American society. Due out in October, the film tells the tale of two US journalists who are given the opportunity to interview North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, then recruited by the CIA to assassinate him.

Kim Myong-chol, the executive director of the Centre for North Korea-US Peace and an unofficial spokesman for the regime in Pyongyang, told The Telegraph: "There is a special irony in this as it shows the desperation of the US government and American society. A film about the assassination of a foreign leader mirrors what the US has done in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. And let us not forget who killed [President John F] Kennedy – Americans. In fact, President Obama should be careful in case the US military wants to kill him as well."

Myong-chol added that Jong-un would probably watch the movie when it is released in October, suggesting the North Korean leader shares his deceased father Kim Jong-il's well-documented love of cinema – the former Korean leader was an avid collector of Hollywood DVDs, a solid supporter of North Korea's film industry, acting as an executive producer on several movies (and even reportedly kidnapping South Korean director Shin Sang-ok to help realise his vision of a socialist Godzilla movie), and writing the seminal North Korean cinematic tome On the Art of the Cinema (1973).

But it seems Jong-un's taste for European cinema is more enduring. Myong-chol noted that British spy films are better and more realistic than their American counterparts, which are "full of assassinations and executions". He added: "James Bond is a good character and those films are much more enjoyable." But even Bond hasn't been spared in the past – 2002's Die Another Day, which has Pierce Brosnan as the MI6 agent fighting the North Koreans, was denounced by North Korean state media as "dirty and cursed".