US satire hits Chinese front pages – as fact

Kim Jong-un: Named 'Sexiest Man Alive' by The Onion
Kim Jong-un: Named 'Sexiest Man Alive' by The Onion
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China’s top newspaper went to town yesterday with a 55-page online picture spread of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un being named The Onion’s “Sexiest Man Alive for 2012”, appearing to fall for a spoof by the US satirical website.

Seemingly clueless as to the real nature of The Onion’s tongue-in-cheek award for Kim, the People’s Daily splashed full-page photographs of the portly young leader riding horses, clapping his hands, waving and clasping children’s cheeks on his tours around North Korea.

“With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true,” the English online edition of the paper quoted The Onion as saying.

The People’s Daily is the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party and because it is widely believed to broadly reflect thinking within the Chinese government, it is among the better-regarded newspapers in the country.

This is not the first time The Onion’s satire has been reproduced as fact. In 2002, the Beijing Evening News, one of the capital’s biggest tabloids at the time, published as news a fictional Onion account that the US Congress wanted a new building and it might leave Washington DC.

Two months ago, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reprinted a story from The Onion about a supposed survey showing that most rural white Americans would rather vote for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than US president Barack Obama.