North Korea calls for joint investigation into Sony hack

Pyongyang rejects US findings that it was involved in attack on studio that made comedy film about a North Korean dictator.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles as a huge crowd surrounds him while he gives field guidance at the Kim Jong Suk Pyongyang Textile Mill in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on December 20, 2014. Reuters/KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles as a huge crowd surrounds him while he gives field guidance at the Kim Jong Suk Pyongyang Textile Mill in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on December 20, 2014. Reuters/KCNA

SEOUL // North Korea has called for a joint investigation with the United States into a cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, one day after Washington blamed Pyongyang for the hack.

The proposal was seen by analysts as a typical ploy by the North to try to show that it is sincere, even though it knows the US would never accept its offer for a joint investigation.

“The US should bear in mind that it will face serious consequences [if] it rejects our proposal for joint investigation and presses for what it called countermeasures, while finding fault with [North Korea]”, the North’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Korea Central News Agency on Saturday.

“We have a way to prove that we have nothing to do with the case without resorting to torture, as ... the CIA does.”

Malicious software used in the hack bore links to malware previously used by North Koreans, FBI officials said on Friday. They said the hacking tools employed were also similar to those used in a March 2013 cyber attack on South Korean banks and media organisations.

The North Korean government denies involvement in the Sony attack, which saw the disclosure of tens of thousands of confidential emails and business files, but has previously called it a “righteous deed.”

Earlier this week, Sony cancelled the Christmas release of its film The Interview after cinema owners received threats of violence from hackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace. The comedy is about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul’s Dongguk University, said North Korea’s Saturday proposal was a “typical” tactic that the country has used in similar disputes with rival countries.

“They are now talking about a joint investigation because they think there is no conclusive evidence,” professor Koh said. “But the US won’t accede to a joint investigation for the crime.”

In 2010, Pyongyang proposed a joint investigation after a South Korea-led international team concluded that the North was behind a torpedo attack that killed 46 South Korean sailors, though Pyongyang denied its involvement. South Korea rejected the North’s offer.

On Friday, President Barack Obama said that Sony “made a mistake” in shelving The Interview, and pledged the US would respond to the hack “in a place and manner and time that we choose.”

“I wish [Sony executives] had spoken to me first. ... We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship,” Mr Obama said at an end-of-year news conference..

Sony said cinemas were refusing to show the movie and so it had no choice but to cancel distribution.

Also on Saturday, North Korea denounced a move by the United Nations to bring its human rights record before the Security Council. It also renewed its threat to further bolster its nuclear deterrent against what it called a hostile policy by the US to topple its ruling regime.

* Associated Press

Published: December 21, 2014 04:00 AM

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