Internet Garbage: That ‘North Korea Condemns Seth Rogen’ Story Is Flimsy Nonsense


A guy from an organization you’ve never heard of who claims to be close to a secretive regime about which little is known has an opinion on an American comedy film he hasn’t seen. Stop the presses.

Kim Myong-chol, the executive director of something called The Centre for North Korea-US Peace, apparently based in Tokyo but who knows, expressed his opinions on the new Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview” to the Telegraph in the UK. Every website in the world finds this anecdote compelling, for some reason.

The following are the entirety of the man’s remarks, described as “an unofficial spokesman for the regime in Pyongyang”, on the issue at hand:

“There is a special irony in this storyline 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 [Barack] Obama should be careful in case the US military wants to kill him as well.”

And here is how the Telegraph opens the piece: “The North Korean regime has attacked a Hollywood comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong-un, saying it shows the ‘desperation’ of American society.”

Almost instantly, the story has turned to putty in the hands of our predictable telephone-game-like aggregation culture.

Fox News: “…a top official has launched a near nuclear attack on the new Hollywood comedy…”

NME went with the headline “North Korean officials slam Seth Rogen’s ‘The Interview’” somehow both multiplying the number of people speaking about the film, and also stripping the un- from in front of the man’s title, which they use in the damn body of the text. Did they not even read their own post?

Time‘s headline reads “Kim Jong Un Will Probably Watch Seth Rogen’s Movie About Assassinating Him.” They also attribute the remarks to a “spokesman for the North Korea leader.”

The Washington Post: “A Pyongyang spokesman made it clear that the North Korean regime doesn’t appreciate this particular brand of comedic storytelling.”

Mediabistro, like many others, somehow attributed the opinion of the film to Kim Jong Un himself: “…we do think Kim Jong Un‘s official condemnation of ‘The Interview’ might be the best advertising the movie could ask for.”

Kim Jon Un has officially condemned it!

I like this one from, which, of course, points out that Kim Jon Un officially condemned the film, because it contains the phrase “Thought Catalog reported.”

What did Thought Catalog report exactly? “North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un Officially Condemns James Franco And Seth Rogen” their headline reads. So not just the film, but now both actors themselves. “A North Korean spokesperson said…” the post leads, in another example of Mr. Kim getting a promotion. Good for him.

Variety, usually a pretty good source of film news, has also conflated the remarks of an unofficial spokesperson living in another country to the entire regime.

The Daily Mail writes that “North Korea blasts new James Franco and Seth Rogan film” in their headline, then write that “a spokesman for the regime told the Telegraph, while he might die in the end North Korea’s leader will still probably watch the film when it comes out in October.”

All of this getting stuff wrong is cute and all, but can anyone add a wrong-and-also-racist element to it? The Daily Caller can, of course. “North Korea is a rittle grumpy its supreme leader is being assassinated in the upcoming movie, ‘The Interview’” they write. At least they refer to Kim Myong-chol as unofficial.

The Hollywood Reporter comes out smelling like roses in comparison to everyone else here, with their headline “North Korea Regime Confidant Rails Against Seth Rogen Film ‘The Interview’”.

TMZ writes that “The North Korean regime is blasting Seth Rogen and James Franco’s new flick featuring an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un.” Maybe they are, but it certainly doesn’t say that in the original piece all of these headlines are based on.

Like this one from Business Insider: “North Korea Hates Seth Rogen’s New Movie.” “The well-known pals have been condemned by the regime for their upcoming movie “The Interview” which pokes fun at the Dear Leader,” they write, attributing the remarks to a “spokesman for Kim Jong Un,” which is wrong, but also saying the interview was in the Guardian, which is an additional way of being wrong.

Et tu, Guardian? “North Korea rubbishes Seth Rogen comedy The Interview” reads their headline.

UPROXX: “North Korea Is Furious At Seth Rogen And James Franco For Plotting To Kill Kim Jong-Un”

Metro: “James Franco and Seth Rogen have been slammed by North Korea for their film The Interview”

Huffington Post: “North Korea Regime Already Criticizing ‘The Interview’”

TheWrap: “Kim Jong-un is not laughing at the antics of Seth Rogen and James Franco in their new film, “The Interview.” Despite this, a spokesman for the dictator has said that he will still probably watch it.”

The Toronto Sun: “James Franco and Seth Rogen’s ‘The Interview’ slammed by North Korea”

E! Online: “North Korea Slams Seth Rogen & James Franco’s The Interview; Kim Jong-un Will Probably Watch the Movie”

Hitfix: North Korea Officially Denounced The New James Franco Movie

Complex: “North Korea is Pissed at Seth Rogen and James Franco”

Esquire UK tweet: “So a North Korea spokesman has slammed Seth Rogan and James Franco’s new film. Watch the trailer here…”

And, not to be outdone, here’s our own Mediaite sadly saying the same: “The North Korean regime has officially condemned Seth Rogen and James Franco.”

Now, it’s completely possible that Kim Jong Un has denounced this movie, but it certainly wasn’t made clear that he actually did in the Telegraph piece, and all of the dozens and dozens of sites getting the basic facts of the person quoted wrong certainly don’t have any reliable confirmation that he did.

Anyway, that’s how the sausage is made.

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>> Luke O’Neil is a journalist and blogger in Boston. Follow him on Twitter (@lukeoneil47).

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