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Sony Hacking Raises South Korean Interest in 'The Interview'

  • Brian Padden

FILE - People walk past a TV screen showing a poster of Sony Picture's "The Interview" in a news report, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea.

FILE - People walk past a TV screen showing a poster of Sony Picture's "The Interview" in a news report, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea.

In South Korea, there are no plans to show the Sony Pictures film “The Interview,” a comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong Un, and it is widely assumed the decision was made so as not to provoke their heavily armed neighbor to the North. But the controversy surrounding the film has stirred public interest. Some Koreans have been able to see “The Interview” online, and the reviews are mixed.

Even before the alleged North Korean cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment occurred, there were no plans to release the movie “The Interview” in South Korea.

No official explanation was given, but it is generally believed that complaints from Pyongyang over the film’s mocking portrayal of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were a major factor.

But many Seoul residents now want the film to be released here, to see why it has generated so much controversy and international media coverage.

Some, like Kim Jin-ki, said South Korea should support films that are critical of the totalitarian regime in the North.

He pointed out that there may be many people who are against the movie, but North Korea is under a dictatorship and must be reformed.

Others, like Kang Sung-yong, support showing the film because they are opposed to censorship.

He said it is just a movie and doesn’t need to be banned. He added that there are many movies that are more brutal than this one.

And many share Sohn Yoon-jung’s opinion that the controversy over the film is driving up the demand for it.

She said if the movie was not banned, then people would not even pay attention to it.

“The Interview” is also available online in the United States, but some Koreans have been able to bypass the geographical restrictions and download it.

Nemo Kim, a lecturer in Korean cinema at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, saw the movie and has been tracking online reactions from other Koreans who viewed it.

“I think the actor playing Kim Jong Un was way better looking than the real one, so he should feel flattered. Don’t you think?” said Kim.

She said most Koreans who watched it were offended, not by how the leader of North Korea is portrayed, but by how all Koreans are portrayed, speaking English poorly and with bad accents. The movie also includes jokes about eating dogs.

“A lot of South Koreans feel that this is not really a parody about North Korea or the Kim Jong Un regime it’s about white male American people making fun of Koreans in general,” said Kim.

Kim added that many American comedies do not go over well with Korean audiences. Rather than a powerful subversive satire of the Kim Jong Un regime, “The Interview” gets a bit lost in translation and does not live up to the hype generated by the cyberattack on the movie studio, Kim said.

VOA News Producer in Seoul Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

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