Activists Say North Koreans Want to Watch 'The Interview'

The Interview Still 4 - H 2014
Ed Araquel

The Interview Still 4 - H 2014

The hermit state has tightened its borders to block the film, as North Koreans are reportedly becoming increasingly curious to watch it

North Korea has geared up to block The Interview from crossing its borders, as locals are trying to get their hands on the film through Chinese traders.

Free North Korea Radio (Jayu Bukhan Bangsong), a broadcaster operated by North Korean defectors in Seoul, South, Korea, reported on Friday that news about the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy had already reached the hermit state last month via the Chinese and local smugglers.

"They are very interested in The Interview and have been requesting local vendors that sell memory cards or CDS, and even smugglers, to get a copy of the movie," said Shin Nam-ho, a reporter for Free North Korea Radio, quoting sources from Sinuiju, North Korea. South Korean TV dramas, for example, are known to be sold through such channels in the North.

"The Stalinist regime has every reason to block the film, as its farcical depiction of Kim's assassination would undermine the dictator's image and authority," Ahn Chan Il, director of the World North Korea Research Center, told South Korea's TV Chosun on Saturday. North Korea has a strong tradition of "idolizing" its leaders for the public, including Kim's late father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung. Kim Jong Un, for example, is said to have changed his looks, such as shaving his eyebrows, to appear more charismatic and threatening.

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Because North Korean civilians do not have Internet access, observers say the film will most likely cross over from China, an ally of the hermit state with which it shares its northern border. The Interview has already reached China and South Korea via illegal downloads.

"I believe The Interview will make its way into North Korea, 100 percent. It's such a provocative topic for North Koreans," Kim Seong Min, a North Korean defector and founder/CEO of Free North Korea Radio, told YTN News. "The state-controlled television only broadcasts propaganda, and culture- and arts-deprived North Koreans are often very influenced by films and TV soaps they can get their hands on. In the end, they want to watch something entertaining, and simply, laugh."