China's State Paper Falls for Onion Joke About Kim Jong Un

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 27 2012 9:50 AM

China's State Paper Falls for Onion Joke About Kim, Publishes 55 Photos in "Sexy" Tribute

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This file photo taken on April 15, 2012 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un saluting as he watches a military parade

Photograph by Ed Jones/AFP/GettyImages.

Just when you're afraid the news day will be again dominated by partisan maneuvering ahead of the "fiscal cliff," the Internet gives you this to keep you going (via the Associated Press):

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The online version of China's Communist Party newspaper has hailed a report by The Onion naming North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as the "Sexiest Man Alive"—not realizing it is satire.
The People's Daily on Tuesday ran a 55-page photo spread on its website in a tribute to the round-faced leader, under the headline "North Korea's top leader named The Onion's Sexiest Man Alive for 2012." ... The photos the People's Daily selected include Kim on horseback squinting into the light and Kim waving toward a military parade. In other photos, he is wearing sunglasses and smiling, or touring a facility with his wife.
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To be fair, the English-language version of the article that's currently live on the Daily's website is technically accurate: It leads with the news that The Onion has bestowed this year's title on the leader of the reclusive nation (technically true), and then offers a choice pull-quote or two from the article. The problem, of course, is the spirit of the article was clearly lost in translation. Here's one such passage from the original spoof that made its way into the Chinese report:

With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true. Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper’s editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.

It's worth noting that the Onion article itself promised only a "full 16-page spread of Kim" would follow in a future print edition—less than a third of the number of photos that the People's Daily cobbled together in reality.

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