Defector launches 'The Interview' in balloons toward North Korea

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On Oct. 10, 2014, anti-North Korea activists launch balloons containing anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North from South Korea. MOD DIGITAL VIDEO SCREENSHOT
From Stripes.com
On Oct. 10, 2014, anti-North Korea activists launch balloons containing anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North from South Korea. MOD DIGITAL VIDEO SCREENSHOT

Defector launches 'The Interview' in balloons toward North Korea

by: Erik Slavin | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: April 10, 2015

“The Interview” is headed to North Korea, but don’t expect it in Pyongyang theaters anytime soon.

CNN has reported that North Korean defector Lee Min-bok has been launching balloons filled with DVDs of the Hollywood comedy toward the Demilitarized Zone.

Lee described the movie as vulgar and not particularly funny. However, its cinematic quality isn’t the point, Lee told CNN.

"The regime hates this film because it shows Kim Jong-un as a man, not a god," Lee said to CNN. "He cries and is afraid like us and then he's assassinated."

Lee launched the most recent batch of 80,000 DVDs, dollar bills and political leaflets – his fourth such launch – in the middle of the night Saturday near the Korean border, after checking wind speed and direction.

Lee may be the first to send his native land the gift of Seth Rogen and James Franco, but activists have been sending balloons over the border for several years.

In 2012, North Korea threatened a "merciless military strike” on South Korea’s Paju city after activists announced plans to float balloons full of anti-North Korea leaflets across the Demilitarized Zone.

The South Korean government recently urged anti-Pyongyang activists to stop sending the balloons, saying such activities could worsen relations between the countries and put villagers in South Korean border towns at risk, according to The Associated Press.

In October, when military officials from both Koreas met at Panmunjon following an exchange of cross-border fire, North Korea raised objections to balloon drops.

Defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters that the drops weren’t being carried out by the government and were considered free speech.

"Our side clarified our position … as a democratic nation, we cannot regulate balloon launches by civilian groups," Kim said, according to AFP.

It’s unclear if Kim’s explanation meant anything to North Korea, which refers to South Korea as a “puppet state” in the kinder news releases aimed at its neighbor.

slavin.erik@stripes.com

Twitter:@eslavin_stripes

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