Friday, December 12, 2014

The Interview and North Korea

The tabloid papers have been having a lot of fun releasing previously private email comments that do not show Sony film executives in a favorable light.

Their comments -- and much more data from Sony Pictures Entertainment -- were released after a massive hack that is being credited to North Korea, or more likely outsourced by North Korea.  (My impression is that North Koreans are too busy scrounging for edible tree bark to do much computer work.)

Not so much is being said about why the Norks would have such a grudge against Sony.  It seems to trace to Sony's production of a movie scheduled for release this Christmas.  The trailer is below.

As you can see, it's a high-concept film, and it is easy to imagine what inspired the screenwriters.  That would be Dennis Rodman, the retired basketball clown who has become good friends with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader who is apparently an NBA fan.

Here's a photo of the two of them yukking it up.

Recently Rodman sat for an interview recently with a reporter from  Here is one of the things he said:

        "He's (Kim is) for the people.  . . .  people here want to know, 'Is he a tyrant?' 'Does he
         kill people?'  I've been around him and his compound and his vacation spots.  If I would
         have seen something negative about him, I probably would have come back and said so."

Let's just say that Rodman's next career move probably won't involve a desk at the State Department.

Anyway, Rodman's relationship with Kim was so wacky that it was easy to envision the pudgy despot taking a liking to a low-rent U.S. news show and inviting its star and producer to North Korea.  Then, to move the plot forward, the screenwriter or writers brought in the CIA to recruit the two to assassinate Kim Jong Un.

This seems to have irritated Kim, who set hackers to work to embarrass Sony.  I suppose it could have been worse -- Kim could have launched a nuclear bomb to take out Sony Global's headquarters in Tokyo, or he could have had a passenger jet shot down.  He is known to be a touchy guy, and living in North Korea no doubt has distorted his view of reality by more than a little.

Sony has reacted by saying that Australia and New Zealand are the only two Asian-area countries where The Interview will be released.

I don't have a problem with a zany movie that pokes fun at North Korea.  The Marx Brothers did a good job of taking it to Hitler in 1933 with Duck Soup, after all.

The only sad thing is that there probably will be no more films about that weird and isolated country.   What we know of the place will continue to come from books.  The most recent release, Without You There Is No Us by Suki Kim, describes her work teaching the children of high apparatchiks in North Korea.  Also this year, Victor Cha published The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future, a well-regarded history.  And two reporters, Barbara Demick and Blaine Harden, interviewed people who were able to get out North Korea in Nothing to Envy and Escape from Camp 14, respectively.

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