The government of North Korea has developed a reputation for lack of subtlety in its attacks on perceived enemies, and in remarks last week regarding the Seth Rogen comedy film The Interview, it crossed a line, calling President Obama a “monkey” and hurling other invective his direction. Now, the nation’s spokesman for Latin America is claiming that the comment could not possibly be a racist one.
“Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” a state article written for the Korean Central News Agency– the government’s main propaganda outfit, remarked. In the same article, it described the United States’ efforts to distribute internet access as “without shame” and compared them to “children playing tag.”
Speaking to Argentine radio station Rock&Pop, Kim Jong Un’s man in Latin America clarified that calling America’s first black president a “monkey” is not racist.
“It is absolutely not a racist comment,” noted Alejandro Cao de Benós. “Not every monkey is black.”
He added wishes that Sony “lose much money” on The Interview and attempted to draw a parallel to American government, claiming that anyone making a similar film about President Obama would be arrested:
Independent of its comedic character, what you cannot do is simulate the assassination of a president. This is a question of respect towards a leader elected by his population. I invite you to make a movie attempting to assassinate President Obama. You would be arrested surely… you would be condemned and sent to Guantánamo.
Cao de Benós is an outlier in the North Korean government. As a Spanish national, he is the only foreign-born official in the North Korean government, and one of the few to be known to openly speak about current events regarding North Korea where many other officials would remain silent. The Interview saga is but an example of Cao de Benós going on the record about something without using KCNA or the state paper, the Rodong Sinmun.
North Korea’s comparison of President Obama to a “monkey” is not of an especially uncommon tenor in North Korean propaganda. In one especially mean-spirited series of editorials, Rodong Sinmun repeatedly called the South Korean President Park Geun-Hye a “bitch”– the title of the op-ed series was “We Accuse Park the Bitch”– as well as a “pumpkin,” a “witch,” and an “old cat groaning in her sickbed.”
The FBI has officially accused North Korea of being at least in part responsible for the extensive hacking of Sony’s computer systems after a group calling themselves Guardians of Peace claimed they had committed the attack as retaliation for The Interview.