If the brouhaha over the latest Seth Rogen and James Franco film “The Interview” proves anything, it proves that the North Koreans have no sense of humor. None at all. I mean, if the United States government hacked a film studio every time that there was a film lampooning our President, our government, or where part of the plot line was an attempt to kill the President, I don’t think we would have any film studios left.
But humor aside, there are two disturbing aspects of all this. First, we really don’t have the cyber-security to protect ourselves from a hacking attack from North Korea. Seriously gang? As someone joked the other day, do they even have computers in North Korea? I mean, if we were talking China or India or Russia, everyone would understand. But North Korea?
Secondly and more disturbing, Sony’s response is to just pull the movie from cinemas? That’s the best that we can do? The North Koreans raise the specter of 9/11– although it’s not clear what is supposed to take place inside movie theaters that is so dangerous, and which can be created by a hacker half a world away — and the whole movie industry folds up like a house of cards? I would have gone to see this movie just to see what the North Koreans were so bent out of shape about. If released, this movie would have done gangbusters.
I am so tired of hearing about poor Sony. Would we be as outraged over the “attack on free speech” if a North Korean movie studio had made a film suggesting it would not only be a good idea, but fun and even funny, if our president was assassinated?
This is like the schoolyard bully running up to the little foreign geek, expecting another fun recess filled with tormenting the little guy. But instead, the kid grabs a branch off the ground and goes upside the bully’s head. It’s outrageous! Doesn’t the little guy know the natural order of things? He’s supposed to take it and like it.
I think Sony’s folding in the light of unspecified threats from North Korea is shameful and cowardly. However, I think we need to be realistic about North Korea. Its people might live in poverty and oppression but the state machinery (as in most dictatorships) is huge and sophisticated. It’s estimated that the size of their armed forces may be approaching one million men and women and they clearly have some very up-to-date cyber-warfare capacity. The illusion that they are some sort of backward country is a dangerous one. Their society and their political system may well be stuck in the 1950’s but their ability and willingness to take both defensive and offensive action is clearly much more developed than many people think.