World

North Korea describes Obama with racial slur in Sony hacking row

North Korea has used racist language in a statement claiming U.S. President Barack Obama was personally responsible for the release of a comedy that depicts an attempt to assassinate President Kim Jong-un.

Washington also blamed for intermittent internet outages of North Korean websites

A security guard stands at the entrance of United Artists theatre during the premiere of the film The Interview. The film has earned $15 million US online since its release. (Kevork Djansezian/Reuters)

North Korea blamed its recent internet outage on the United States on Saturday and hurled racially charged insults at U.S. President Barack Obama over the hacking row involving the movie The Interview.

North Korea's powerful National Defence Commission, which is headed by country leader Kim Jong-un and is the nation's top governing body, said Obama was behind the release of the comedy that depicts Kim's assassination. The commission 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 the country's official Korean Central News Agency.

The White House's National Security Council declined to comment Saturday.

North Korea has denied involvement in a crippling cyberattack on Sony Pictures but has expressed fury over the comedy. Sony Pictures initially called off the release of the film, citing threats of terror attacks against U.S. movie theatres. Obama criticized Sony's decision, and the movie opened this past week.

Crude insults common

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, North Korea 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."

A State Department spokeswoman at the time called the North Korean dispatch "offensive and ridiculous and absurd."

In the latest incident, the North Korean defence commission also blamed Washington for intermittent outages of North Korean websites this past week. The outages happened after Obama blamed the Sony hack on North Korea and promised to respond "in a place and time and manner that we choose."

The U.S. government has declined to say whether it was behind the internet shutdown in North Korea.

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 North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and its alleged human rights abuses.

A United Nations commission accuses North Korea of a wide array of crimes against humanity, including murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment and rape.

The U.S. stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against North Korean aggression.

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