Kim Jong-un Promises War

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HOLLYWOOD, California -- Could James Franco and Seth Rogen start a war? Until yesterday, that notion seemed absurd. But now, Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea, has promised 'merciless' retribution if Columbia Pictures releases the film The Interview, which stars both Franco and Rogen.

In a nutshell, The Interview is a comedy in which the two superstar's characters team up in order to assassinate Kim Jong-un. After realizing that the press are given unparalleled access to international dignitaries during media ops and conferences, the two plan to murder the North Korean leader during an interview. Admittedly, the nature of the movie is combative, and should be expected to draw criticism, especially from the real-life man who is caricatured and assassinated in the film.

But, is the movie an "act of war," as Kim Jong-un alleges? Few think so. But for years, North Korea has inflated their international ego with empty [yet still terrifying] threats. In March 2013, Kim Jong-un warned that he would attack parts of South Korea using nuclear weaponry which he did not yet possess. Since then, Kim Jong-un has proudly planned nuclear attacks on Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Obviously, the film is controversial, even to many who do not sympathize with Kim Jong-un or his agenda. To me, The Interview is a more inflammatory version of Team America World Police, which featured marionette characters, including a crew of American special forces who penetrate North Korea in order to foil Kim Jong-il's fictitious attacks against America. A main difference between The Interview and its predecessor are that the new movie stars a Kim Jong-un lookalike, which is more provocative than a war between puppets. And also, the fictional plot in Team America is actually true-to-life today, where Kim Jong-un promises war against those who oppose or disrespect him, even Hollywood creatives.

Essentially, Kim Jong-un is playing a dangerous game of chicken with Columbia Pictures, which is almost certainly a lose-lose proposition for North Korea. Either Kim Jong-un engages the United States government in so-called catastrophic attacks, or Kim Jong-un will publicly undermine his brawny remarks with failure to follow through. Inaction, following such severe threats, will certainly show the limitations of Kim Jong-un, no matter his Herculean confidence. Both outcomes will augment doubts about Kim Jong-un's executive rationale and international image.

While I understand how the movie can be incendiary to a North Korea audience, I feel that making a movie, a piece of art, about assassinating a world leader is far less offensive than a national government guaranteeing nuclear warfare against the people of the world. Kim Jong-un has little room with which to point fingers, especially in terms of needless threats against oppositional nations.

It is unlikely that Columbia Pictures will withhold the release of The Interview. After all, the First Amendment protects free speech and those who practice it. But as human beings, I believe we should be promoting love and peace more than division and homicide, especially in the art we produce.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

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American Man Detained in North Korea

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Olivia Elswick, Asia CorrespondentLast Modified: 09:36 p.m. DST, 14 June 2014

"Kim Jong-un clapping" Photo by: Petersnoopy October 9, 2010 http://www.flickr.com/photos/54050720@N05/6549444309/

PYONGYANG--North Korea has detained an American man as he tried to leave the country following his tourist trip which began on 29 April 2014. State media identified the man as Jeffrey Edward Fowle, 56, of Maimisburg, Ohio and he is the third American citizen to be detained by Pyongyang in the past 18-months.

He was arrested for what they describe as activities inconsistent with his stated intent on his tourist visa. Japanese news agency Kyodo reports that he allegedly left a Bible in a hotel where he had been staying. North Korea has been promoting tourism in an effort to attain foreign currency, but the country is sensitive to how visitors act while in the country.

The State Department has warned against travel to North Korea, and being part of a tour group will not prevent possible arrest. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said there’s “no greater priority for us than the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad,” though they cannot give any further information about specific details without consent from the individual.

Because the U.S. has no diplomatic presence in North Korea, the Swedish Embassy handles consular matters for Americans in North Korea and are working to return Fowle to his three children, ages 9,10, and 12, and his wife, Tatyana, a 40-year-old Russian immigrant.

The Swedish embassy has been in contact with one of the other two U.S. detainees, Kenneth Bae, 45, a Korean-American missionary from Lynwood, Washington who is serving 15 years of hard labor for alleged hostile acts against the state aimed at bringing down the regime of Kim Jong-un.

North Korea contains state-controlled churches but forbids independent religious activities. Bae is fearful for his health after he was returned to labor camp following a stay in the hospital. He told Swedish diplomat, Cecilia Anderberg, that he has likely lost 10 pounds since his return to the camp. Bae spends eight hours a day doing manual labor with his hands, and he suffers back and neck pain.

U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has offered to go to North Korea to help with Bae’s release. For a second time, North Korea has rescinded its invitation to Ambassador Robert King, with no explanation. Former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Donald Gregg, has visited Pyongyang, but for matters unrelated to the 3 Americans held captive.

Matthew Miller, or Miller Matthew Todd, 24, is being detained for improper behavior after he entered North Korea on April 10th with a tourist visa, tore it up, and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum with North Korea “as a shelter.” Last year an 85-year-old veteran of the Korean War, Merrill Newman, was freed from Pyongyang, after being held for several weeks following an organized private tour in the country. He was released after involuntarily giving a videotaped confession apologizing for killing North Koreans during the war.

Follow Olivia on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Asia Correspondent: @OCELswick