North Korea mocks Obama, faults US for Internet attack
SEOUL — North Korea lashed out at the United States on Saturday, blaming it for ongoing disruptions that cut off the nation’s already limited connections to the Internet, while once again rejecting US accusations that it was behind the hacking of Sony Pictures.
The statement, carried by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, also called President Obama a “monkey” for urging the film studio to release “The Interview,” a comedy depicting the assassination of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.
Sony had canceled the film’s release for fear of more attacks but then reversed itself after Obama criticized it for capitulating to North Korean pressure.
The statement by the National Defense Commission, which is led by Kim and is the country’s most powerful governing body, is the North’s first response to the intermittent disruptions that have crippled its tenuous connection to cyberspace since Monday.
The connectivity problems, which at one point appeared to sever North Korea completely from the Internet, started days after Obama vowed to retaliate for the damaging attack on the Sony film studio.
Speaking earlier this month, Obama said he held the North responsible for the hacking of Sony, which took place just before the studio was to release “The Interview.” The attackers stole confidential e-mails, salary information, and unreleased films, which they then posted online.
The United States has declined to say whether it played a role in the disruptions, which struck many of North Korea’s few websites. Information about US cyberwarfare programs is classified.
Internet experts have said the failures could have been caused by anything from technical malfunctions to a hacking attack, adding that the attack could easily have been carried out by a nongovernment group.
However, in its statement Saturday, the North made it clear it viewed the disruptions as the work of a US attack in retaliation for the Sony hacking.
While North Korea did not say if it would retaliate for the disruptions, it did accuse the United States of acting like a schoolyard bully.
“The United States, with its large physical size and oblivious to the shame of playing hide and seek as children with runny noses would, has begun disrupting the Internet operations of the main media outlets of our republic,” the statement said.
In the past few days, the websites of the state-run news agency and the newspaper Rodong Sinmun, two of the North’s main outlets to the world, were among those that went dead for several hours.
The North also blamed Obama for the release of the movie, which it said undermined “the dignity of the supreme leadership.”
“Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” an unidentified spokesman at the commission’s Policy Department said in the statement.
The White House’s National Security Council declined to comment Saturday.
This is not the first time the North, which is fond of bombastic language, has used racist or otherwise crude insults against the leaders of the United States and its allies.
Earlier this year, it called President Park Geun-hye of South Korea a prostitute. The same statement called Secretary of State John Kerry a wolf with a ‘‘hideous’’ lantern jaw.
A State Department spokeswoman called that North Korean dispatch ‘‘offensive and ridiculous and absurd.’’
The Saturday statement also repeated earlier denials that North Korea was behind the attack on Sony Pictures and demanded that the United States back up its accusation with proof. “Obama had better thrust himself to cleaning up all the evil doings” that the United States has perpetrated against the North, the statement said.
The vaguely threatening tone echoed threats of violence against movie theaters that planned to screen “The Interview.” Those threats were a factor in Sony’s decision to cancel its release, but the studio eventually reversed its decision.