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While U.S. Focuses On Sony Hack, Some Of The World Is In The Dark


Yesterday, President Obama blamed North Korea for the cyber-attack and threats that triggered Sony Pictures to pull the film "The Interview." The president promised the U.S. would respond. Today, North Korea has denied any involvement and wants a joint investigation into the incident with the U.S. North Korea is threatening serious consequences if Washington refuses. We called up Anna Fifield, the Tokyo Bureau Chief at the Washington Post. With Sony being a Japanese company, I asked her if this was the big story there as well.

ANNA FIFIELD: Well, it's big news what the American press are reporting and what the American branch of Sony has done, but it's really surprising how little local reaction there is to this. There seems to be, kind of, no connection that Sony is actually a Japanese company and that there was a Japanese CEO who presided over this whole decision. And "The Interview" was never going to be released in Asia. It was never going to show in Japan or Korea or China. So it's kind of like it doesn't feel like it's been canceled here because it was never on.

RATH: Anna, you've taken a number of reporting trips inside North Korea. You know, whether or not the country has anything to do with this hacking attack, do you think people inside North Korea even know about this movie?

FIFIELD: Well, there has been a little bit of mention in the official state press about how North Korea triumphed over this American company that was making a disrespectful movie. But that is as detailed as it goes. There's certainly no run-down of the plot. I mean, I think that the North Korean regime doesn't want to be giving people ideas. I talked to some defectors who live in South Korea this week, and one said it would be just so dangerous if a North Korean was ever caught with this movie, that it was like a certain death sentence.

But the general kind of feeling amongst North Koreans who have managed to escape is that this is not a fair representation of North Korea, you know? They lived 28 years in a labor camp, as one woman I spoke to had. You know, it's no laughing matter. So they kind of bristle at the idea that people are finding North Korea funny, that they're making light of what people are going through in some American blockbuster movie.

RATH: And I can't imagine that any country would find it very funny if one of their rivals made a film about their leader being assassinated. But with North Korea, is it especially bad for some reason there?

FIFIELD: Yes, it is because there is a deep-seated conspiracy theory mindset in North Korea. There's this constant drumbeat of the - America is out to get us, they're trying to overthrow us. So things like this totally feed into that narrative. So in recent months, we've had the resolution going through the United Nations, seeking to refer Kim Jong-un and his cronies to the ICC for crimes against humanity. And then now, we have this movie coming out which, you know, shows the leader of a country's face exploding in a very spectacular fashion. So they say this is just the latest episode of an American plot to overthrow the regime.

RATH: Anna Fifield is the Tokyo Bureau Chief at the Washington Post. Anna, thanks very much.

FIFIELD: Thanks for having me, Arun. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.