A CHINESE NEWSPAPER which acts as the official mouthpiece for the ruling Communist regime has deleted an online article covering Kim Jong-Un’s latest accolade: his title as the ‘Sexiest Man Alive’.
The website of the People’s Daily newspaper ran the story based on the accolade, which had been awarded by the satirical US newspaper The Onion – with no evident knowledge or appreciation of The Onion’s comedic goals.
Stories had appeared in both the English and Chinese versions of the website, and carried quotes from The Onion’s hitherto unmentioned ‘Style and Entertainment editor’ Marissa Blake-Zweibel.
“He has that rare ability to somehow be completely adorable and completely macho at the same time,” The Onion’s original article had quoted Blake-Zweibel as saying of the North Korean 30-year-old, who succeeded his late father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011.
“He’s a real hunk with real intensity who also knows how to cut loose and let his hair down,” she said, adding that his new wife Ri Sol-ju was “one lucky lady, that’s for sure!”
The Chinese title appeared to take the award at face value – running a story carrying Blake-Zweibel’s comments alongside a 55-photograph gallery showing North Korea’s 30-year-old head of state in various poses.
It is not unusual for the Chinese State media to carry content which casts North Korea and its other international allies in a positive light – but the deadpan manner in which the story was covered prompted a flurry of links, as users suspected China had failed to understand the less-than-serious tone of The Onion’s reportage.
This was confirmed overnight when the People’s Daily website removed its article, offering only ‘error 404′ links to anyone who tried to access it. The brief story is still available through Google’s cache, however, and includes a large photo of the North Korean leader sitting on a horse.
A later update to The Onion’s article acknowledged the Chinese pick-up, describing the People’s Daily as “a proud Communist subsidiary of The Onion, Inc.”
“Exemplary reportage, comrades,” it said.
The appearance of the surname ‘Zweibel’ in the article (twice) may have been a hint as to the paper’s satirical origins: the word is a slight misspelling of ‘Zwiebel’, the German translation for ‘onion’.