Olympics 2012: Rupert Murdoch-Owned Australian Paper Upsets North Korea

Naughty Korea - H 2012

News Corp.'s commuter daily mX drew a rebuke from the North Korean regime after dubbing the state "Naughty Korea" in its Olympics coverage.

SYDNEY - News Corp.’s Australian free commuter newspaper mX has found itself at the center of a minor diplomatic storm after it cheekily dubbed North Korea “naughty Korea” in its Olympics medal tally last week.

With South Korea and North Korea sitting in fourth and fifth places on the Olympic medals table, mX called the two countries Nice Korea and Naughty Korea – and seemingly was prepared for a rebuke from the Kim Jong Un-led regime.

The rebuke came in a statement from the official Korean Central News agency, which accused the newspaper of behaving in a “sordid”, “pitiful” and “foolish” manner. “This is a bullying act little short of insulting the Olympic spirit of solidarity, friendship and progress,” said the statement from Pyongyang.  

“[The paper] deserves criticism for what it has done," it added. Editors of the paper were so incompetent as to tarnish the reputation of the paper by themselves by producing the article like that.”

The statement further accused the paper owned by the Rupert Murdoch conglomerate of cooking “up the way of moneymaking, challenging the authority of the dignified sovereign state” and likened mX to petty thieves sneaking into the Olympic stadium, adding it had tarnished its own reputation.

mX editors Claire Sutherland, Craig Herbert and Emma Chalmers defended the paper's stance as irreverent, in keeping with the tabloid’s general tone and the way it has been covering the London 2012 Olympic Games, saying the tongue-in-cheek naming was “in no way intended to offend the athletes or citizens of either South Korea or North Korea.”

"The two teams (South Korea and North Korea) were sitting in fourth and fifth spot respectively on the medal ladder, and we thought it would be a humorous, but harmless, way of differentiating between the two, and a reflection on the way much of the western world views the two countries,” they said. "North Korea's political leadership is no stranger to global criticism and it would be difficult for anyone to fail to see the comment was aimed directly at that record."

The editors added: "The mX tally received an enormous response online throughout the world and the overwhelming majority of readers and the social and print media community saw it for what was intended - nothing more than a bit of light-heartedness.'