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Kim Jong Un 'sexiest man,' Onion says; China's People's Daily buys it

November 27, 2012|By Barbara Demick
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un -- the Onion's "Sexiest Man Alive" -- attends a military parade in Pyongyang.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un -- the Onion's "Sexiest Man… (Ed Jones / AFP / Getty Images )

BEIJING — Who says the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t have a sense of humor?

People’s Daily, the party’s official mouthpiece, ran a large feature on its website Tuesday on North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong Un being named the Onion’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”

The only glitch was that the People’s Daily didn’t seem to realize that the Onion is a satirical newspaper.

Instead, in breathless deadpan style, the People’s Daily quoted the Onion’s assessment of Kim’s sexiness. “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.”

The People’s Daily article, headlined “North Korea’s top leader named the Onion’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2012,’’ was accompanied by 55 pages of photographs, the first one being a recently released shot of Kim on horseback.

Kim, a pudgy young man in his late 20s, took over as North Korea’s leader last December after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.  The Chinese Communist Party maintains close ties with Pyongyang’s ruling Workers’ Party.

Even without help from the Onion, People’s Daily frequently runs features about North Korea so fawning as to suggest parody. ("The erection of the statues of the illustrious commanders at the university marks a great event reflecting the steadfast will of all the service personnel of the Korean People's Army (KPA) to glorify the immortal revolutionary exploits performed by the Generalissimos for all ages,” was a line in a recent People’s Daily article about the unveiling of statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.)

Other recent features in People’s Daily website include “Fashion in DPRK” and “DPRK’s top leader enjoys concert,’’ using the formal acronym for North Korea.

This is not the first time the Chinese state press has been fooled by a spoof in the Onion. In 2002, a satirical piece suggesting that the U.S. Congress would leave Washington, D.C. if it didn’t get a better building was reported as a straight news story by the Beijing Evening News.

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