North Korea blasted the United States for the release of the Sony film ‘The Interview’ just hours before it reportedly suffered yet another country-wide Internet blackout on Saturday.
Analysts at Dyn Research, an international Internet performance firm who are monitoring the country’s web access, spotted the outage late Saturday evening, North Korean time. The blackout comes days after the secretive authoritarian nation experienced a previous country-wide Internet outage from what security experts think was a likely cyber-attack.
The outage Saturday came just hours after a North Korean spokesman released a statement denouncing Sony’s release of “The Interview” online and in a limited number of movie theaters. The statement, from Pyongyang’s Policy Department of the National Defence Commission, warned that screening the film would “[hurt] the dignity of the supreme leadership” of North Korea while “agitating terrorism.”
North Korea’s statement accused President Obama of being the “chief culprit” forcing Sony to release the film – saying the president is “reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest” – while also blaming “wicked conservative forces” for the film’s release.
The White House responded to the slur in a comment Saturday night, telling NBC’s Chris Jansing, “this is particularly ugly and disrespectful,” adding that the North Korean government was simply trying to provoke a response.
The note, full of the usual bluster, threats, and over-the-top rhetoric Pyongyang is known for, concludes by saying: “If the U.S. persists in American-style arrogant, high-handed and gangster-like arbitrary practices despite the repeated warnings of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), the U.S. should bear in mind that its failed political affairs will face inescapable deadly blows.”
Pyongyang – which has denied any role in the original hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment – is also alleging that the United States government is behind its previous Internet outage. When asked about that on Monday, U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters she would not publicly discuss any details about a “possible response” before adding, “as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen.”
Many in the media interpreted Harf’s answer as a a near admission that the U.S. was behind the first North Korean Internet outage. On Tuesday, one reporter asked Harf a followup question saying that she seemed to be giving a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink.” Harf cautioned against any such interpretation of her remarks and said she merely meant she could neither confirm nor deny that there would be a U.S. response to North Korea’s alleged hacking of Sony.Earlier this month, Sony decided to pull ‘The Interview’ after cyber-attackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace threatened violence against any theater showing the film. President Obama said Sony “did the wrong thing” when it decided to pull the film. Guardians of Peace is also said to be behind the hacking and theft of a massive amount of emails and personal information from Sony employees. Some of the information obtained in those emails proved to be both damaging and embarrassing for Sony Pictures Entertainment.
U.S. officials have repeated alleged that North Korea was behind the actions taken by the Guardians of Peace – again, something Pyongyang has repeatedly denied.
Sony, meanwhile, will reportedly be sued over the inclusion of a pop song in “The Interview” by Korean-American singer Yoon Mi Rae. Tech news website Boing Boing reports that the song was included in the film without permission after Sony had initiated a conversation with the singer’s record label about possibly using it. The label reportedly says that a deal was never reached. In a statement obtained by Boing Boing, the singer’s record label said, “We will be taking legal action against Sony Pictures as well as DFSB, the agency that had been carrying out the discussion regarding the use of the track.”