North Korea Is So, So Mad at Seth Rogen and James Franco

By  · Published on June 23rd, 2014

Columbia Pictures

Looks like Seth Rogen and James Franco won’t be getting the Dennis Rodman Tour of Honor and Respect and Like, Just A Lot of Basketball should they ever happen to roll into North Korea, but we doubt that will come as a surprise to the comedic duo (and we also doubt that anyone will ever be able to just “roll” into the country, least of all a pair of Hollywood superstars known for their comedic hijinks).

The pair’s next cinematic team-up, The Interview, takes pretty sharp aim at both the Asian dictatorship itself and its actual supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. This isn’t veiled stuff ‐ Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s latest film is entirely about a smarmy television host (Franco) and his best pal/producer (Rogen) who snag a big interview with the dictator and are then tasked with assassinating him, thanks to the demands of the U.S. government. Again, this isn’t a film about West Norea and its meanie leader Jim Long-um, it’s fully about North Korea and Kim Jong-un. So, yeah, he’s a little ticked off. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to see the final film!

The Telegraph reports (via /Film) that Kim Myong-chol, executive director of The Centre for North Korea-US Peace and an “unofficial spokesman for the regime in Pyongyang,” has denounced both the film and its involved talents.

“There is a special irony in this storyline as it shows the desperation of the U.S. government and American society,” he told the outlet, misunderstanding both irony and how to properly express it to a international paper.

But that’s not all! He continued, “A film about the assassination of a foreign leader mirrors what the U.S. has done in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine…and let us not forget who killed [President John F.] Kennedy ‐ Americans. In fact, President [Barack] Obama should be careful in case the U.S. military wants to kill him as well,” Kim said. Um, shots fired? Also, who knew that the guy in charge of a center dedicated to North Korea and U.S. peace was such a hardcore conspiracy theorist?

For all his strong words and off-kilter views, this Mr. Kim does have something going for him: he actually kind of loves movies! He’s not just some Western movie-hater who makes blanket statements about anything produced outside his country, as he actually shows a big preference for British films (could this story get any weirder?). He even told the outlet, “James Bond is a good character and those films are much more enjoyable.” Man, too bad about Die Another Day, which the North Korean government also denounced when it hit screens back in 2002.

Yet, all is not lost: unofficial spokesman Kim also revealed that supreme leader Kim will still see the film when it hits the big screen (though when it will actually hit the big screen in North Korea is another matter entirely ‐ perhaps he has his own private screening room?), proving that absolutely no one is immune to the draw of seeing themselves portrayed on the big screen.

The North Korean reaction to the film isn’t that surprising, as our own Adam Bellotto explained when he posted about the film’s latest trailer a few weeks ago, with this new film, Rogen, Goldberg and Franco are “basically goading America’s enemies into starting World War Three.” Hey, comedy can be incendiary.

The Interview opens on October 10th.