Tag Archives: Kim Jong-un


Activists to Drop ‘The Interview’ in North Korea via Balloons

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han

The Interview is going to North Korea.

Human rights activists in South Korea plan to fly DVDs of the Seth Rogen comedy into North Korea via hydrogen balloons, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Free North Korea, a South Korean activist group led by defector Park Sang-hak, will use balloons to distribute the film to the entertainment-deprived North Korean masses.

The Interview, which stars Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy centering on the CIA recruiting American journalists to plot an assassination of North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un (played by Randall Park).

Park’s organization has used balloons to drop transistor radios, DVDs and other items into North Korea for years. The Human Rights Foundation, a New York-based organization, has been funding the balloon drops for the past two years. The Interview won’t likely be available on DVD for the next scheduled balloon drop in January, but the organization’s plan is to smuggle the film into North Korea as soon as possible.

“North Koreans risk their lives to watch Hollywood films,” said Thor Halvorssen, who founded the Human Rights Foundation. “The Interview is tremendously threatening to the Kims. They cannot abide by anything that portrays them as anything other than a God. This movie destroys the narrative.”

With funding from Halvorssen’s group, Free North Korea has also sent leaflets, books and other educational materials to the totalitarian state via balloons, which are launched from secret locations in South Korea. To drop the materials in targeted locations, the balloons are designed to break open with acid-based timers.

When asked by Deadline.com about whether he thinks sending The Interview to North Korea would be a good idea, Rogen said: “It would be really interesting. I wonder what a North Korean citizen would think of the movie.  And, they are not bad. They are the victims of horrible situations. Part of me thinks they themselves would really enjoy the movie.”

Photo courtesy of Lee Young-Ho/Sipa USA and AP. 


Kim Jong-un’s Sister May Visit South Korea

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

North Korea has offered to send Kim Jong-un’s younger sister as an envoy to a Seoul food festival in March, an organizer told Reuters on Thursday.

The Association for South-North Economic Cooperation, a private South Korean business group with ties in the North, submitted an application to South Korea’s Unification Ministry for the joint festival, according to the Korea Economic Daily. The group claims that its North Korean counterparts provided them a list of officials to participate in the event, and Kim Yo-jong was listed as a participant.

However, there is some skepticism over the group’s application. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Unification Ministry said it could not “confirm the existence of the North Korean entity” and noted inconsistencies in the association’s proposal, including Kim’s official position in the communist state.

Kim, who is presumed to be 27, was identified by North Korea’s state media last month as the vice department director of the ruling party’s central committee, but the South Korean association’s application named her as the director.

The group was also not listed in business directories and its website could not be found on Naver, South Korea’s leading search engine. In addition, North Korea had not mentioned Kim’s visit through its state media.

The food festival is scheduled for March and is set to celebrate the Korean peninsula’s 70th anniversary of independence from Japanese colonial rule, said the organizers.

If Kim is approved to attend the event, then it would mark the first visit made by an immediate member of North Korea’s ruling family.

Photo courtesy of Wikitree


North Korea Refuses to Deny Hacking Sony Pictures

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

New evidence suggests that North Korea may have been behind the cyber-attack that crippled Sony Pictures last week. The tools the hackers used are very similar to those used to attack South Korean television stations and ATMs in 2013, according to the Wall Street Journal.

North Korea was one of the initial suspects in the hacking, which disabled the Sony Pictures computer network and forced employees to work with their cellphones, pen and paper. Before screens went dark, they displayed a red skull and the phrase “Hacked By #GOP,” which reportedly stands for “Guardians of Peace.” A message also threatened to release sensitive data stolen from Sony servers if certain demands were not met.

The threat apparently didn’t include five Sony movies, including Fury and the unreleased Annie, as they were leaked to torrent sites over the weekend. Investigators and Sony executives have assumed the leaks were connected to the attack, although there is no evidence of that yet.

So far, North Korea has refused to deny their involvement in light of what has only been circumstantial evidence. BBC News reported that when asked, a North Korean spokesman for the government replied, “Wait and see.”

If North Korea is indeed behind the attacks, the Verge noted, it would be the first time a Hollywood studio has come under attack from a foreign power.

Investigators believe that Sony’s upcoming movie, The Interview, would explain a connection to North Korea. The comedy film that involves two journalists (James Franco and Seth Rogen) on a mission for the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). North Korea has not held back in expressing their distaste over the film. Back in June, a Foreign Ministry spokesman promised a “merciless counter-measure” if The Interview becomes released and also denounced the movie as “the most undisguised terrorism.”

The Interview

“A film about the assassination of a foreign leader mirrors what the U.S. has done in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine,” read a statement by Kim Myong-chol, North Korea’s executive director of the Center for North Korea-U.S. Peace. “And let us not forget who killed [John F.] Kennedy—Americans.”

In the statements from the hacking group behind the attacks, the Verge found that one of the recent messages singled out The Interview in a similar manner:

“Our aim is not at the film The Interview as Sony Pictures suggests. But it is widely reported as if our activity is related to The Interview. This shows how dangerous film The Interview is. The Interview is very dangerous enough to cause a massive hack attack. Sony Pictures produced the film harming the regional peace and security and violating human rights for money. The news with The Interview fully acquaints us with the crimes of Sony Pictures. Like this, their activity is contrary to our philosophy. We struggle to fight against such greed of Sony Pictures.”

Another portion of the message reads, “We won’t give up this attack unless Sony Pictures collapse to the end.”

theinterview01Randall Park as Kim Jong-un.

Since August, Sony had already planned to edit out a few controversial portions of the movie, including a Raiders of the Lost Ark homage where Kim Jong-un’s face melts off in slow motion. They also digitally altered the buttons worn by multiple characters because they “depict the actual hardware worn by the North Korean military to honor” Kim Jong-un and his late father, Kim Jong-il.

The Interiew is still set to hit theaters on Christmas Day, at least in the U.S. It will not be screened in South Korea, however, as a Seoul-based Sony Pictures official cited concerns of inter-Korean relations.

Photo courtesy of The Verge

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 1.30.09 PM

Kim Jong-un Sings Katy Perry in Final Trailer for ‘The Interview’

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Sony Pictures has released its final trailer for the upcoming action-comedy film The Interview, starring Seth Rogen, James Franco and Randall Park.

Written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the feature centers on Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen), who run a popular celebrity tabloid TV show. After discovering that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a fan of the show, Dave and Aaaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang to interview him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as real journalists. Their plans, however, are derailed when the CIA recruits them to assassinate the North Korean dictator.

While previous trailers have only shown glimpses of the film’s iteration of Kim Jong-un, the new trailer highlights Park’s strong comedy chops, as seen in the short scene of him singing Katy Perry’s “Firework” with Franco.

This year has been a particularly busy one for Park as he is currently filming for the upcoming ABC family comedy, Fresh Off the Boat, which is slated to air in early 2015. In addition, Park will also be featured on the cover of KoreAm‘s December/January 2014 issue! You can read Park’s final column for KoreAm here.

The Interview will hit U.S. theaters on December 25.

Kim Pumpkin

All Hail the Pumpkin King, Kim Jong-un


What’s big, round, weighs 374 lbs and looks like Kim Jong-un?

Why, it’s a giant celebrity pumpkin created by noted “pumpkinizer” Jeannette Paras, of course! Unlike most other pumpkin enthusiasts, who mutilate orange flesh for their creations, Paras paints her pumpkins in likenesses of celebrities. She’s been doing this since 1988, and her portfolio includes Miley Cyrus, President Obama, Prince Harry, Santa Claus, Kanye West and the Hulk.

You can check out all of Paras’s creations at her Facebook page, Paras Pumpkins.

Image via Paras Pumpkins


The Mystery of Kim Jong-un’s Disappearance May Be Solved


South Korea’s spy agency claimed Tuesday that it has solved the mystery behind Kim Jong-un’s six-week public absence, reported Yonhap.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told legislators in a closed-door briefing that Kim underwent an operation between September and October to remove a cyst from his right ankle, according to Lee Cheol-woo of the ruling Saenuri party and Shin Kyong-min of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy.

“Give his obesity and excessive activities, the trouble could recur despite the surgery, said Lee, referring to Kim’s frequent inspection tours of military units, factories and construction sites.

The NIS added that a European doctor was specially invited into the communist country to perform the operation.

North Korea has a long-standing relationship with a small group of French doctors, according to the New York Times. These doctors have previously treated top North Korean officials and have even treated Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il.

After disappearing from public view on Sept. 3, Kim reappeared on Oct. 14, supporting himself with a cane, ending wild speculations about Kim’s critical illness and a possible military coup.

The NIS also disclosed that North Korea has expanded five of its political prisoner camps, including the Yodok camp, said Lim Dae-seong, Lee’s aide who also attended the briefing.

Lim added that the NIS also believes that North Korea recently executed several people who had been close to Kim’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, who was suddenly executed in December 2013 for treason.

rodong sinmun

Kim Jong-un Reappears in Public for the First Time in 40 Days


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has made his first public appearance in about 40 days, giving a “field guidance” to a newly built residential district, according to state news agency KCNA on Tuesday.

KCNA reported that Kim visited the Wisong Scientists Residential District and the Natural Energy Institute of the State Academy, adding that the leader had a photo session with scientists. However, the news agency did not publish these photos or any videos of his visit. KCNA also did not specify when Kim made his visit, although it’s presumed that the visit occurred on Monday.

According to Reuters, there were also several pictures of Kim walking with a cane published on the front page of Tuesday’s edition of North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

However, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrall said he could not confirm the KCNA report at this time.

“We have seen these breaking reports but have nothing for you on their authenticity at this time,” he said.

Kim has not been seen in public since his attendance at a musical concert with his wife on Sept. 3. His disappearance has spurred peculations and rumors ranging from gout to a military coup, despite the U.S. debunking rumors of a coup as “false.”

Earlier this month when senior officials of the North Korean delegation met with South Korean representatives, South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae asked Kim Yang Gon, secretary of North Korea’s ruling Worker’s Party, about rumors of Kim Jong-un’s ill health. The secretary at the time responded that there were “no problems at all.”

Photo courtesy of Rodong Sinmun and BBC

South Korea: Anti-North Korea Protest in Paju

Kim Jong-Un Misses Another Major Event Amid Exchange of Gunfire at Land Border

Pictured above: South Korean activists prepare balloons for carrying propaganda leaflets that condemn North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (Photo courtesy of Lee Young-Ho/Sipa USA and AP)

by FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — For the first time in three years, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un didn’t appear at a celebration of the anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party on Friday, further increasing speculation that something is amiss with the authoritarian leader who hasn’t been seen publicly in more than a month.

North Korea’s propaganda machine conveyed the no-show to the world in its typical murky and indirect fashion — a state media dispatch that excluded Kim’s name from a list of senior government, military and party officials who paid their respects at an event marking the party’s 69th anniversary.

Indications that Kim remains firmly in power were evident, however. His name appeared on a flower basket placed before statues of his father and grandfather, both of whom also ruled North Korea, and an earlier dispatch said the might of the party “is growing stronger under the seasoned guidance of Marshal Kim Jong Un.”

State media haven’t shown Kim, who is thought to be 31, performing his customary public duties since he attended a concert Sept. 3. He had been walking with a limp and was more overweight than usual in images that were broadcast before that. An official documentary from late last month described him as dealing with “discomfort,” which led to international speculation that he may be ill.

A group of South Korean activists, meanwhile, marked Friday’s anniversary by releasing anti-North Korean propaganda balloons across the border. North Korea responded later with machine-gun fire, and several of the bullets fell south of the border near a military base and a residential area, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.

He said South Korea then fired 40 rounds from machine guns. North Korea then opened fire with rifles, which South Korean soldiers responded to in kind, he said. There were no reports of damage or injuries, but the exchange of fire was a reminder of the bitter rivals’ animosity despite recent glimmers of trust building.

Much of what happens in North Korea’s inner circles is hidden from the eyes of outsiders and even average North Koreans. This leaves media in South Korea and elsewhere to speculate, sometimes wildly, about what’s really happening. Some reports say Kim could have gout, diabetes or other ailments, with much of the speculation based on that single reference in the documentary and unidentified sources speaking to South Korean media.

South Korean officials are playing down the speculation.

In Seoul, Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong Cheol told reporters Friday that Kim appears to be in charge of key affairs. Lim noted that a high-level North Korean delegation conveyed his greetings to South Korean President Park Geun-hye during a surprise visit to South Korea last week that had raised hopes for better ties between the countries. Lim said North Korea’s state media has continuously reported about Kim’s leadership.

North Korea has said nothing publicly about Kim’s absence. It is not his first break from the media spotlight — he wasn’t seen publicly for about three weeks in 2012, South Korean officials say — and a senior North Korean official on last week’s visit to the South told a South Korean official that Kim was fine.

Without the extended absence, Kim’s nonattendance Friday would not be all that unusual. Such anniversaries generally have more weight in landmark years. A high-profile celebration, for example, is expected for next year’s 70th anniversary of the ruling party.

Because North Korea has publicly acknowledging Kim’s “discomfort,” many analysts believe that he’s unlikely to be suffering from anything particularly serious. When his father, Kim Jong Il, suffered major health problems late in his life, state media said nothing. Kim Jong Il was believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008, and his death on Dec. 17, 2011, was not announced for two days.

But each day the younger Kim is absent only adds to the speculation. He missed a meeting of parliament late last month and a gathering this week marking his late father’s election as ruling party head. Kim also was not seen in North Korean media reports greeting the athletes who returned from the Asian Games in the South, although they received a lavish reception and heavy media coverage.


Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Eric Talmadge in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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