NORTH Korea hurled racial slurs comparing President Barack Obama to a monkey as it escalated its row with the US over the Sony Pictures comedy film The Interview yesterday.
The insult came from the country’s powerful National Defence Commission (NDC), which blamed the US for shutting down its internet amid the hacking row over the film.
North Korea has denied involvement in a crippling cyber attack on Sony Pictures but has expressed fury over the film that depicts an assassination of its leader, Kim Jong-un.
Sony Pictures initially called off the release, citing threats of terror attacks against US cinemas. Obama criticised Sony’s decision, and the company then put the film out on limited release.
It took in more than $1 million (£640,000) on Christmas Day in 331, mostly independent, theatres after large cinema chains refused to screen it following threats of violence from hackers.
Sony also made the film available online.
The NDC, North Korea’s top governing body led by Kim, said yesterday in the capital, Pyongyang, that Obama was behind the release of The Interview and described the film as illegal, dishonest and reactionary.
“Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” an unidentified spokesman at the commission’s policy department said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
There was no immediate reaction from the White House.
It wasn’t the first time North Korea has used crude insults against Obama and other top US and South Korean officials. Earlier this year, the North called US secretary of state John Kerry a wolf with a “hideous” lantern jaw and South Korean president Park Geun-hye a prostitute.
In May, the North’s news agency published a dispatch saying Obama has the “shape of a monkey.” The NDC also accused Washington for intermittent outages of North Korea websites last week, which happened after the US had promised to respond to the Sony hack.
North Korea’s internet problems began last weekend and it suffered a complete outage of nearly nine hours before links were largely restored on Tuesday.
The US government has declined to say if it was behind the shutdown.
In a separate commentary, North Korea has denied any role in cyber attacks on South Korea’s nuclear power plant operator, calling the suggestion that it had done so part of a “smear campaign” by unpopular South Korean leaders.
A South Korean official investigating the attacks last week that led to leaks of internal data from Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power said that the authorities were not ruling out North Korea’s involvement.
“The South Korean puppet authorities are working hard to link this case with (us) though the truth about it has not been probed,” Minju Joson, the official publication of North Korea’s cabinet, said in a commentary carried by the Korean Central News Agency.