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What South Koreans Say About “The Interview”

There has been much controversy over Sony’s “The Interview,” with Seth Rogen and James Franco, but what do South Korean people really think about the film?

Weeks after its debut, Sony’s The Interview still garners wide attention in the news and on social media. Quite a grand spectacle has been made over the “threat” this film causes for national security, as well as the danger posed by the alleged hacking group “Guardians of Peace”.

Speaking subjectively, I have never seen a film get so much attention in the days surrounding its release — or so it seems. Then again, I’ve only been reading about it on the English-speaking part of the internet.

With all of the chatter and faux-controversy surrounding The Interview in the Anglosphere, I wanted to know what normal Korean folks thought about the film. After all, Friendly Korea sits within easy reach of Angry Korea’s shenanigans. Should the Supreme Leader feel particularly vengeful, there are plenty of sleeper agents running around Gangnam style in the south, waiting for orders to wreak havoc at a moment’s notice.

In surveying the Korean population it was important for me to seek the opinions of a statistically diverse, highly representative range of people. Otherwise the results would not hold up to scientific scrutiny. In order to do this, I used an advanced surveying technique, upheld as the standard in modern reporting methodology and used by many leading internet journalists. In short, I messaged every single Korean person on my contact list.

The surveyed group included the participants listed below.

  • Friends
  • Casual acquaintances.
  • Colleagues
  • People I owed money.
  • A woman who lost all romantic interest in me ten minutes into the first date. (It was mutual. We’re bros now.)
  • Half a dozen people I met while drunk and never talked to again.
  • A waiter who forced his number on me in the men’s bathroom of a penis-themed restaurant, claiming he “wanted to practice English together.”
  • A person listed as “Sally’s Friend -???”
  • A contact saved as “Eyebrows Guy – SK.”

As you can see, the surveyed group was completely representative. It includes three major demographic groups of society: those that like the author, those that hate the author, and those that are neutral about the author. Education level, age, gender, language ability, residency status – these factors could provide little effect on the potential outcome of the survey and were therefore disregarded.

Now for a look at the results. Breaking from modern reporting methods, you will notice one unusual feature: the answers have in no way been sensationalized.  Answers are in random order.


This is just a sample at the many answers I received. In general, responses fit into a few categories.

  1. I’ve never heard of The Interview.
  2. I’ve never watched The Interview but strangers on the internet say it’s terrible.
  3. The movie is racist/orientalist/stupid.
  4. I’ve never watched The Interview but strangers on the internet say it’s racist/orientalist/stupid.
  5. I really hope this doesn’t piss off North Korea.
  6. I really hope this does piss off North Korea.

The takeaway from this one is short and sweet. First, the film is racist, orientalist and stupid, although that was apparently done on purpose. Intentional or not, few get the joke – offensive humor doesn’t seem too popular here in SK. Second, there are many angry people on the internet who are very, very good at broadcasting their opinions. Finally, no one likes North Korea but war isn’t really that great so please stop trying to make Kim Jong-un angry, eh? South Korea is hoping for a Germany-style reunification which will happen… Eventually? Somehow? It’s not entirely clear. But really guys, although it’s doubtful the film will cause anything to happen, war is pretty terrible so don’t poke the bear. At least that seems to be the consensus.

 Thank you to everyone who responded to my questions.

Filed under: Articles, North Korea, South Korea

About the Author:

Arthur is an educator and student of the world. He wanders the globe in a selfish quest to teach everyone English, trying to save himself from the embarrassment of being absolutely terrible at speaking foreign languages himself. has written 3 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Arthur Fern is currently in: South KoreaMap

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  • VagabondJourney January 6, 2015, 8:09 pm

    Right on, Arthur! It’s good to get this local take on this beyond the sensationalism.

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  • Stacey January 10, 2015, 1:10 am

    Those responses are not at all surprising. I did enjoy reading about how you vaguely knew all those people… what did you penis themed waiter say when you first contacted him about a movie anyway?

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