North Korea Is No Joke

North Korea Is No Joke

Seth Rogen may need body guards after ribbing Kim Jong Un. articles/north-korea-is-no- joke-1417652764

Dec. 3, 2014 7:26 p.m. ET

With his buzz haircut and high-heeled shoes, Kim Jong Un is an easy target for ridicule. But jokers beware: Kim does not enjoy ribbing. Ask Sony Pictures, the victim of a damaging cyber attack last week.

On Christmas day, Sony is due to release a Seth Rogen comedy that mocks Kim. The North Korean state news agency has condemned “The Interview” as an “act of war.” “This act of not fearing any punishment from Heaven is touching off the towering hatred and wrath of the service personnel and people of the D.P.R.K.,” the propaganda organ thundered in June.

It appears Pyongyang wasn’t kidding. Hackers broke into the computers of Sony Pictures, which produced “The Interview,” and stole newly released and unreleased films, as well as sensitive documents.

Some computer security experts believe North Korea is behind the attack. The intrusion featured some of the same Korean-language malware that Kim’s minions used to take down television and bank networks in South Korea about two years ago.

That’s hardly conclusive evidence since hackers often share their tools. But the North Korean mission to the United Nations didn’t deny responsibility, coyly telling the BBC, “I kindly advise you to just wait and see.”

If Kim did order the cyber hit it will confirm North Korea’s reputation for perversity. In retaliation for a movie that portrays him as a reclusive, overly sensitive evil dictator he responds … like a reclusive, overly sensitive evil dictator.

Amusing as this affair is, it’s a reminder that the North gets nasty when it feels provoked. Its agents have staged assassinations and kidnappings around the world. Last week Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, warned that in addition to nuclear warheads and the missiles needed to strike the U.S., Kim is making progress on new asymmetric weapons. These include drones, submarines, and biological and chemical warfare.

While such weapons might not change the outcome of a conflict, they may make war more likely. Gen. Scaparrotti warned that “Kim Jong Un, unlike his father Kim Jong Il, is overconfident and unpredictable.” Crazy dictators can be funny but they are always dangerous.

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