North Korea on Wednesday denounced a new Hollywood comedy about an assassination bid on leader Kim Jong-un as a “wanton act of terror” and warned of a “merciless response” unless the US authorities banned the film.
The Interview stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as two tabloid TV journalists who land an interview with Kim in Pyongyang and are then tasked by the CIA with killing him.
The film is due to be released in the United States on October 14.
In a statement carried by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, a foreign ministry spokesman said the film was the work of “gangster moviemakers” and should never be shown.
“The act of making and screening such a movie that portrays an attack on our top leadership... is a most wanton act of terror and act of war, and is absolutely intolerable,” the spokesman said.
In his statement, he called on the US administration to ban the film from being screened and warned that failure to do so would trigger a “resolute and merciless response”.
It is not the first time Hollywood has poked fun at a North Korean leader.
In the 2004 satirical action comedy Team America, Kim’s father Kim Jong-il was portrayed as a speech-impaired, isolated despot.
In the official trailer for The Interview a CIA officer calls North Korea the “most dangerous country on earth”, and briefs the Rogen and Franco characters on the cult of personality surrounding the Kim family dynasty.
“Kim Jong-un’s people believe everything he tells them, including that he can speak to dolphins, or that he doesn’t urinate or defecate,” the officer says.
Played by Korean-American actor Randall Park, Kim appears in the trailer as an overweight, cigar-chomping dictator, surrounded by security guards.
The scenes set in Pyongyang were filmed in Vancouver.
In a recent interview with Yahoo Movies, Rogen, who co-wrote the script, said the idea for the film came out of a discussion over how journalists with access to world leaders might have the opportunity to act as assassins.
“We read as much as we could that was available on the subject ... We talked to people in the government whose job it is to associate with North Korea, or be experts on it,” Rogen said.