The Interview Does Not Amuse Some North Koreans


If you were among the many people who excitedly sat down for The Interview and, like our own Isaac Feldberg, did not find it funny, you are not alone, as a number of North Korean citizens and defectors don’t find it funny, either.

According to Kim Seong Ming, a North Korean defector currently living in Seoul and running Free North Korea Radio, some North Korean defectors currently living in South Korea have enabled North Korean citizens to watch The Interview online. Their reactions? Here’s what Kim Seong Ming said:

Some North Korean viewers found it offensive that Kim Jong-un was being ridiculed and that the North Korean culture was portrayed in a very inaccurate way.

More troubling, however, is the response of one North Korean viewer who “felt brokenhearted by the scene where the foreign journalist asks [Kim Jong-un] why he won’t distribute food to the people.” While it was not elucidated what made the viewer feel this way – whether the fact that it hit too close to home, or seemed to be mocking the poverty of the country – it’s a troubling byproduct of taking on human rights abuses in a comedy.

Other North Korean defectors who got to see the film in a bar in Seoul were bothered by the lack of resemblance between Kim Jong-un and Randall Park, who plays the part of the dictator. This apparently provoked some annoyance, and some laughter, because the film’s portrayal of North Korean politics and culture was so off the mark.

The Interview has been criticized by some reviewers for treating the actual suffering of North Koreans with levity and even mockery, while making the dictator into a childish, even likable, buffoon. It could be that the reactions of some North Koreans are an example of culture clash – or maybe The Interview just is not all that funny to people who live in Kim Jong-un’s shadow.

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