SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has compared President Barack Obama to a monkey and blamed the U.S. for shutting down its Internet amid the hacking row over the movie The Interview.
The North has denied involvement in a crippling cyberattack on Sony Pictures, but has expressed fury over the comedy, which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Sony Pictures initially called off the release of the film, citing threats of terror attacks against U.S. movie theaters. Obama criticized Sony’s decision, and the movie opened this past week.
On Dec. 27, the North’s powerful National Defense Commission, which is led by Kim and is the country’s top governing body, said Obama was behind the release of The Interview. It described the movie as illegal, dishonest and reactionary.
“Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” an unidentified spokesman at the commission’s Policy Department said in a statement carried by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency.
It wasn’t the first time North Korea has used crude insults against Obama and other top U.S. and South Korean officials. Earlier this year, the North called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a wolf with a “hideous” lantern jaw and South Korean President Park Geun-hye a prostitute. In May, the North’s official news agency published a dispatch saying Obama has the “shape of a monkey.”
The defense commission also blamed Washington for intermittent outages of North Korean websites this past week, which happened after the U.S. had promised to respond to the Sony hack. The U.S. government has declined to say if it was behind the shutdown.
There was no immediate reaction from the White House on Dec. 27.
According to the North Korean commission’s spokesman, “the U.S., a big country, started disturbing the Internet operation of major media of the DPRK, not knowing shame like children playing tag.” DPRK refers to the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The commission said the movie was the result of a hostile U.S. policy toward North Korea, and threatened the U.S. with unspecified consequences.
North Korea and the U.S. remain technically in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
The rivals also are locked in an international standoff over the North’s nuclear and missile programs and its alleged human rights abuses. The U.S. stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against North Korean aggression.