Chinese People’s Daily mistakes the Onion for serious newspaper

Los Angeles Times, By Barbara Demick

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. (link: though I imagine it will be taken down soon).

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.)

More at the link

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  • Kim Jong-un Seems to Get a New Title: Heartthrob

    New York Times, By Edward Wong, November 27

    Beijing — How do you say satire in Mandarin?

    Not known for its sense of humor, the Chinese Communist Party’s official mouthpiece apparently fell for a parody by The Onion, the satirical newspaper and Web site, when it reported Tuesday in some online editions of People’s Daily that Kim Jong-un, the young, chubby North Korean ruler, had been named the “Sexiest Man Alive for 2012.”

    Or did it?


    Mr. Tracy added that The Onion had issued a formal statement. “We are pleased that one of our many fine Communist subsidiaries, the People’s Daily in China, has received accolades for its coverage of our Sexiest Man Alive announcement,” the statement said. “The People’s Daily has served as one of The Onion’s Far East bureaus for quite some time, and I believe their reportage as of late has been uncommonly fine, as well as politically astute.”


    When Mr. Tracy was asked Tuesday whether he had any concerns that the misinterpretation of these articles could provoke international incidents, he said, “The Onion fully intends to provoke international incidents.”

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