According to North Korean defectors, “The Interview,” the Sony Pictures comedy about a fictional CIA plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un, is not going over well with North Korean viewers, even among people who oppose the country’s dictatorship.
Several democracy activists with contacts in the North said the North Koreans they spoke with reacted to the film first with fear of punishment for watching it, but also with derision and wounded feelings over the depiction of their country. Some of the activists said it was unlikely that many people would risk watching it.
To put it simply, national pride trumped their dislike for Kim Jong-un, their country’s young and often ruthless leader.
“They cursed at the movie,” said Chung Kwang-il, a North Korean defector and democracy activist in South Korea who said that his associates in China had smuggled digital copies of the movie into the North and that he had since spoken by cellphone with eight people who surreptitiously watched it. “They were angry it depicted North Koreans as a bunch of idiots,” he said. “Now, these are not people worshiping Kim Jong-un; they are ones who wish he were gone.”
Kim Sung-min, a North Korean defector who runs Free North Korea Radio, a Seoul-based website, wrote there that he spoke to two North Korean viewers and one of them said that he was thrilled by the scene in which an American talk-show host visiting Pyongyang asked the Kim Jong-un character why he was starving his people. Nonetheless, Mr. Kim quoted the viewer as saying that “the movie will only increase animosity among us because it not only failed to understand our feelings, but didn’t even try to.”