SEOUL – North Korea on Wednesday denounced an upcoming Hollywood comedy about an assassination bid on leader Kim Jong Un as a “wanton act of terror” and warned of a “merciless response” if U.S. authorities allow the movie to be released.
“The Interview” stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as two tabloid TV journalists who land an interview with Kim in Pyongyang and are then tasked by the CIA with killing him.
The film is due for release in the United States on Oct. 14.
In a statement carried by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, a foreign ministry spokesman said the film was the work of “gangster moviemakers” and should never be shown.
“The act of making and screening such a movie that portrays an attack on our top leadership . . . is a most wanton act of terror and act of war, and is absolutely intolerable,” the spokesman said.
The statement called on the U.S. government to ban the film and warned that failure to do so would trigger a “resolute and merciless response.”
It is not the first time Hollywood has poked fun at a North Korean leader.
In the 2004 satirical action comedy “Team America,” Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, was portrayed as an isolated despot with a comical accent.
In the official trailer for “The Interview” a CIA officer calls North Korea the “most dangerous country on earth,” and briefs the Rogen and Franco characters on the cult of personality surrounding the Kim family dynasty.
“Kim Jong Un’s people believe everything he tells them, including that he can speak to dolphins, or that he doesn’t urinate or defecate,” the officer says.
In a recent interview, Rogen, who co-wrote the script, said the idea for the film came out of a discussion over how journalists with access to world leaders might have the opportunity to assassinate them.
“We read as much as we could that was available on the subject. . . . We talked to people in the government whose job it is to associate with North Korea or be experts on it,” Rogen said.