An estimated 80,000 copies of The Interview were delivered to North Korea via balloon drop. Defector Lee Min-bok, who currently resides in South Korea, confirmed the DVDs were delivered in a series of four drops — which began in January and ended last weekend.
The Interview is an American comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. Although it was clearly marketed as satire, the film became a point of heated controversy before it was even released. The North Korean government was specifically concerned as the film portrays the assassination of their leader, Kim Jong-un.
As reported by CNN, North Korea’s National Defense Commission blamed President Barack Obama for forcing “Sony Pictures Entertainment to indiscriminately distribute” the controversial film. The commission further accused Obama of “appeasing and blackmailing cinema houses and theaters in the U.S. mainland to distribute the movie.”
The Interview’s original release date was delayed due to a cyberattack threat, which reportedly originated in North Korea. Although the specific source of the threat remains unknown, the film was eventually released without incident.
North Korean law prevents residents from purchasing, possessing, and watching, foreign television programs and movies. However, as reported by The Daily Beast, “North Koreans risk their lives every day to watch foreign films, desperate to learn about the world outside of their communist country.”
— Telegraph News (@TelegraphNews) April 8, 2015
Television programs and movies are often smuggled across the border on USB sticks, as they are less conspicuous. However, DVD copies of The Interview were delivered to North Korea via balloon drop. Lee Min-bok said he is not concerned about South Korean law enforcement.
Unfortunately for Min-bok, North Korean border agents are notoriously aggressive in their attempts to prevent smuggling. As reported by The Guardian, Pyongyang officials issued a specific warning to smugglers attempting to deliver copies of The Interview via balloon drop.
— The Verge (@verge) April 8, 2015
In their foreboding statement, government officials said border agents are prepared to use “merciless retaliatory strikes” to prevent copies of the movie from crossing into North Korea.
In addition to the DVDs, the balloons contain informational pamphlets and cash. Although he admits he did not particularly enjoy the movie, Min-bok believes North Korean residents have a right to see it.
An estimated 80,000 Copies of The Interview were made available to North Korean residents. However, it is unknown how many will risk their lives to possess or watch the controversial film.
[Image via Robert Marquardt/Getty Images]