LAST month, hackers attacked and paralyzed computers at Sony Entertainment. They stole data about upcoming films and film workers’ — some of these famous stars’ — personal life, including income, and leaked these online.
Last week, the North Korean government denied accusations its men had been the ones who hacked into Sony’s computers and issuing warnings. But Nokor media and government spokesmen commended the cyberattack.
The KCNA news agency, quoting NK’s highest military command, ran a story blasting allegations that the country was behind the hackers who did “the righteous act” of cyber-attacking Sony. Saying these allegations were nothing but rumors, the military authorities also warned that North Korea has “a great number of supporters and sympathizers all over the world” who probably did the attack.
The KCNA article accused Sony of aiding terrorists “to injure the dignity of the supreme leadership” of North Korea by producing the movie, The Interview.
The movie is a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists enlisted to kill Kim Jong-un, the current North Korean leader.
Presidential spokesman Josh Earnest at the White House media briefing yesterday said American officials were mulling over an “appropriate response” to the “terrorist attack.” He did not name who the attackers were because the FBI and the Department of Justice were investigating the attack.
Four groups are suspected of the cyberattack on Sony and of making the online threats against movie theaters and companies that had scheduled the showing of The Interview.
These are a state (which means North Korea), China-based admirers of Kim Jung-un and the NK regime, hackers paid most likely by Pyongyang, or a lone-wolf hacker who just hates the US, Japan and the rich Western countries.
Whoever really launched the cyberattacks has given Chairman Kim Jong-Un a victory.
The White House sees the cyberattack as a “security issue” because it has caused movie theaters to cancel their schedules to exhibit The Interview. Cyber messages have been warning not only theater companies but also the public against seeing the movie. Sony finally decided not to release The Interview at all.
Other movie makers that have finished or were producing funny films about North Korea and Kim Jung-Un have now stopped their film projects. They want to appease North Korea and avoid trouble and tragedy.
Commentators, columnists and editorial writers see this development as something worse than the attacks on the human right to free expression posed by the fatwa on Salman Rushdie by Iranian clerics and the attacks on Western newspapers that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).
Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria asks, “Why does a terrorist threat from North Korea produce appeasement whereas threats from Islamic terrorists produce courage, defiance and resilience? I suspect that it’s because we are fully aware of the barbarism of jihadi terrorists. But we tend to think of North Korea in somewhat comical terms — the odd dictators with their strange haircuts, the weird synchronized mass-adulation in stadiums, the retro-propaganda and rhetoric.”
He reminds us that, “In fact, North Korea is one of the world’s most repressive and brutal dictatorships. Estimates are that it abducted thousands of people from neighboring countries following the Korean War, allowed 1 million to 2 million of its own people to starve in a famine in the 1990s, and currently imprisons about 100,000 people in labors camps. The United Nations appointed a panel to investigate the human rights situation in North Korea; its report, released in February, paints a picture of a regime that really has no parallel in the scale of its systematic cruelty and oppression.”