By Hyung-Jin Kim
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea blamed its recent Internet outage on the United States on Saturday and hurled racially charged insults at President Barack Obama over the hacking row involving the movie “The Interview.’’
North Korea’s powerful National Defense 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 theaters. Obama criticized Sony’s decision, and the movie opened this past week.
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 defense 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 United States with unspecified consequences.
North Korea and the United States 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. ■
Associated Press writer Josh Lederman in Honolulu contributed to this story.