The Communist Party's People's Daily tried to wipe egg off its face yesterday after its English website amused the world with a 55-page photo spread of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un being named the "Sexiest Man Alive for 2012" by The Onion, a satirical US-based website.
"It was an objective report; the website did name him the sexiest man," an online editor from the English-language version of People.com.cn , the website of People's Daily, said yesterday, declining to be named. "It is a fact."
"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 People's Daily's English website quoted The Onion as saying.
The photo slideshow led with Kim on horseback peering into the distance. Other photos included him waving towards a military parade, wearing sunglasses and smiling.
The item had become the most-viewed on the English website of the People's Daily before being removed yesterday, but that hasn't stopped mainland internet users from poking fun at the most-censored Communist Party mouthpiece.
In response to the attention the article received, The Onion updated its November 14 article yesterday, saying: "For more coverage … please visit our friends at the People's Daily in China, a proud Communist subsidiary of The Onion, Inc. Exemplary reportage, comrades".
The report on People.com.cn  came days after the fashion section of Phoenix Television's website ran a short story about The Onion's story.
The story was picked up by the website of the Yangtse Evening Post about two hours later, and then by the website of another state newspaper, the Guangming Daily, on Monday. Only Phoenix Television's website made it clear The Onion was a satirical website.
The North Korean embassy in Beijing could not be reached for comment.