North Korea warns US over James Franco comedy

'The Interview' stars Seth Rogen and James Franco who are asked by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong Un. Picture: Getty
'The Interview' stars Seth Rogen and James Franco who are asked by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong Un. Picture: Getty
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NORTH KOREAN officials yesterday denounced a forthcoming American comedy film featuring a plot to assassinate its leader Kim Jong-un as an act of terrorism and threatened to unleash a “merciless counter-measure” if the US fails to ban the movie.

The movie, The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, is scheduled for release in the US in October.

“Making and releasing a movie on a plot to hurt our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated,” North Korea’s official KCNA news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.

The threat came after North Korean agricultural workers held a rally in the city of Nampho, south of the capital Pyongyang, to vow to take ­revenge on the US.

The rally was held the day before the anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.

Thousands of workers stood in formation holding their right hands in a fist as they protested at US involvement in the three-year bloodbath, which began on 25 June, 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea with weapons supplied by the Soviet Union.

Yesterday marked the 64th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War in which more than 1.2 million soldiers died on all sides. Memories of that war are particularly painful in the North, where several cities, including Pyongyang, were all but destroyed by US airpower.

The forthcoming Hollywood movie recounts the story of a talk show host and his producer who land a rare sit-down ­interview with Mr Kim, the third leader of his family dynasty to rule North Korea.

The Central Intelligence Agency then recruits the pair to assassinate him.

Mr Kim, who is in his early 30s, has shown no sign of easing the iron grip imposed by his grandfather, state founder Kim Il-sung, and his father, Kim

Jong-il, who died in 2011.

He has maintained tight control of virtually all aspects of life in North Korea after ordering the execution of his powerful uncle to crush what was described as an attempt to overthrow the authorities. More than 200,000 people are believed to be held in prison camps, but officials reject as ­“fabrications” details of mass brutality set out in a UN-sponsored report citing escapees and exiles.

The foreign ministry spokesman said people ­regarded the life of their leader as “more precious” than their own.

He added: “If the US administration allows and defends the showing of the film, a merciless counter-measure will be taken.”

North Korea currently holds three US nationals, accusing them of various crimes, and remains technically at war with its closest neighbour, South Korea.

It routinely refers to Americans as “imperialist warmongers”, berates American leaders through its media and once called US president Barack Obama a “wicked black ­monkey”.

But Mr Kim is also believed to be a fan of American culture and oversaw the staging of a show featuring popular US folklore. He was seen giving a thumbs-up to dancing Disney characters and a performance set to the theme song from the film Rocky.

Former basketball player Dennis Rodman, the most high-profile American to meet Mr Kim, sang “Happy Birthday” to him during a visit in January.