North Korea Stops Showing Chinese, Russian Films Following 'The Interview'

The Interview Still 4 - H 2014
Ed Araquel

The Interview Still 4 - H 2014

Traditional allies find their films banned from Pyongyang state television

North Korea may have already tightened its border controls as part of attempts to keep The Interview out, but the country has now stopped showing all foreign films, including those from traditional allies.

Following direct orders from Kim Jong Un, Chinese and Russian movies have been pulled from North Korea's state television, according to Radio Free Asia. The U.S. nonprofit broadcaster first reported the news quoting sources in Pyongyang, followed by South Korean media.

Observers claim that the move, despite North Korea's stable relationship with both China and Russia, is largely due to The Interview.

"Such measures wouldn't have been taken if it hadn't been for movies like The Interview that [are deemed to] threaten North Korean authorities," Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean defector and head of the World Institute for North Korean Studies, told South Korean broadcaster Channel A.

"There seems to be increasing interest in foreign films, and [this ban] could be interpreted as a sort of test procedure to prevent it," added Ahn.

North Korea's Chosun Central Television has periodically screened foreign films on weekends and made headlines several years ago for showing British comedy Bend It Like Beckham — though it was heavily censored to only half its original running time.

Chinese movies were pulled from the broadcaster in 2012 as ties between the two Asian countries soured. DVDs of Russian movies distributed by North Korea's state-run Mokran Video are reported to still be available in local marketplaces.