Sex appeal personified?
The online edition of The People’s Daily appears to have been taken in by a spoof story proclaiming Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, 2012’s Sexiest Man Alive.
The Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper appears to have taken the story seriously and run with it, reporting as fact the 29-year-old supreme leader’s supposed sex appeal – and running an astonishing 55 photographs to prove it. The original satirical report appeared on US website The Onion two weeks ago.
The People’s Daily quoted extensively from the original article.
“He has that rare ability to somehow be completely adorable and completely macho at the same time,” the Onion’s fictitious style and entertainment editor Marissa Blake-Zweibel said. “And that’s the quality that makes him the sort of man women want, and men want to be. He’s a real hunk with real intensity who also knows how to cut loose and let his hair down.”
The Onion promised its readers a 16-page spread of photos in a later “sexiest man alive” issue. The People’s Daily apparently decided to trump that several times over.
The Chinese newspaper failed to include a list of former winners which would have tipped off the most gullible Western readers that the entire report was a spoof: from 2011, Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian despot; from 2009, Bernie Madoff, who committed a $50 billion investment fraud; and from 2008, Ted Kaczynski – the notorious Unabomber who killed or injured 26 people over 18 years while evading arrest by the FBI.
The People’s Daily isn’t the first organisation to be duped by The Onion this year. In the lead-up to the US presidential elections, the Iranian news agency FARS managed to pick up a fake poll saying voters would rather have a beer with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than Barack Obama. It, too, included fake quotes and statistics from The Onion.
The People’s Daily’s report was still online at noon today, but the web address now delivers a 404 error code – page not found. – Louis Miles
Photos of Kim Jong-un from The People’s Daily online