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North Korea sets up task force to block 'The Interview'

Pirated DVDs of "The Interview" are already circulating in China on North Korea's northern border.

By Frances Burns
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North Korea sets up task force to block 'The Interview'
North Korea has reportedly set up a task force to keep "The Interview" from crossing its border. The Sony Pictures comedy is about a talk show host and his producer recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. UPI/Jim Ruymen | License Photo

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A three-star general has set up a task force to keep the movie The Interview from crossing North Korea's borders. a South Korean newspaper reports.

Chosun Ibo, citing sources, said the task force, based in a provincial security center in Hyesan near the Chinese border is even going house to house to make sure no one has copies of the Sony Pictures comedy. The effort, which began last week, reportedly involves the unit that polices North Korea to make sure foreign media content is not making its way into the country as well as border guards and security officials.

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The movie stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as the producer and host of a TV talk show recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after they score an interview with him.

"The regime has started cracking down on the black market, while keeping close watch on smugglers in the border area," the source said. "Officials are visiting homes and checking computers and DVD players."

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Toshimitsu Shigemura, an expert on North Korea who teaches at Waseda University in Tokyo, told the the Telegraph that Kim, who succeeded his father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011 when he was 28, cannot afford ridicule.

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"The movie is no threat to North Korea, but it is a clear danger to the ruling system. As the leader in North Korea has absolute power, every effort must be made to save face in a situation such as this," Shigemura said. "There is also a threat to the Kim regime's legitimacy, which the film raises uncomfortable questions over."

The movie, released on line and in about 300 theaters in the United States after North Korea threatened terrorist attacks on showings, has become a hit on the Internet. In China, pirated DVDs are already available, and Weibo, a Chinese web site, provides a streaming version with Chinese subtitles that has been viewed more than 500,000 times, Chosun Ibo said.

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The Chinese border is North Korea's main land link with the outside world and an escape route for those trying to flee the country.

North Korea, which has been implicated in the hacking of Sony Pictures' computer system, has been the victim of a counter-attack which brought most of its own Internet sites down.

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