Chinese Communist Party Eats An Onion

The Chinese Communist Party main website fell for an article in the Onion that claimed that “Kim Jong-Un Is the Sexiest Man Alive” (AP report).  The Party site ran a 55 page photo spread on KJU, showing him squinting, riding a horse and further quoted the Onion:

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

Classic onion pie.

Addendum: apparently the Korea Times is also eating onions, which would explain why that poor excuse of a newspaper smells. A hat-tip to “platethief”.

  • dokdoforever

    Here’s the link to the People’s Daily:

    Kim is sure spending plenty of time with the military. Those three old generals seem to be constantly around him – they seem especially out of place at the woman’s volleyball match and the amusement park.

    He probably doubts the loyalty of conservative forces within the military and uses these photo shoots to try to show military backing.

  • R. Elgin

    Maybe June bug is just giving them tips on how to pick up women and those are really good pick up spots.

  • leguwan

    And Kim Jong Ill is the sexiest man dead?

  • Anonymous_Joe

    The “Lil’ Kim” Time Magazine cover with Kim Jong Eun and the word bizarre should be a hint.

    Do Asians in general not have an irony filter? Is it a cultural thing?

    >>HEADS UP!!!<<

    Who threw that??? TK? Pawi?

  • dokdoforever

    I doubt that “Asians in general” have much at all in common, except for the fact that they live in Asia. Indians, Chinese, Thai, Koreans, Uzbeks all have unique cultures, languages, histories. Maybe you mean ‘East Asians’ with a shared Confucian heritage? I still don’t think you can generalize – China and Japan are pretty different than Korea. Irony doesn’t appear to be as common in Korea.

    Understanding irony also requires a shared perspective. The 60 year old Chinese Communist Party official running the People’s Daily probably has a different view of fashion and what’s ‘sexy’ compared to the people at the Onion. Did you see those female N Korean soldiers flocking around Kim in one the picture? – they definitely look like they think he’s sexy. N Koreans, it appears, seem to think that being a little plump is an attractive feature. The Shanghai list was one of the first to catch the Daily’s error, so I wouldn’t generalize that all ‘Asians’ somehow lack an ability to discern irony.

  • Angusmack

    It’s not an Asian thing, more like an “any moron who doesn’t appreciate satire thing” who doesn’t get the Onion. And admittedly non-English speakers are at a disadvantage, but not entirely. For example, the Onion caught out a asshat Republican politician who parroted one of their articles about Planned Parenthood opening up an “Abortionplex”. Still, seeing the mouthpiece of the CCP stick their foot in it yet again (see the “news” about Congress threatening to leave Washington if they don’t get a new stadium, er, House) is rather delicious. I guess this what happens in a political system where the leaders are not subjected to merciless ridicule from time to time.

  • Adams-awry

    What the hell! It may be Grim up North, but at least they’ve got Dragon Fruit [pic 37]. Why don’t we have dragon fruit in the South?

  • WangKon936

    Okay, okay…. it’s all fun and games until some Chinese journalist gets his organs donated without his consent for embarrassing the Chinese Communist Party.

  • dokdoforever

    Adams – There are plenty of delicious foods from China and SE Asia that are hard to find in Korea – and it seems that the main reason is unwillingness to try new foods. But the situation has vastly improved from the early 90s when I first came here. There were no Vietnamese noodle restaurants. People really got excited over the first TGIF.

  • feld_dog

    I’ve seen dragon fruit pop up from time to time at various Lotte Marts. Got one at the Lotte Mart near Seoul Stn. once. Expensive as hell–about 10,000 won. Usually I just smuggle a few back from Thailand when I go. Customs never checks. (Shhhhhhh!)

  • Yu Bum Suk

    10 – My Korean friend was terribly upset because customs siezed the fruit he was bringing back from SE Asia … in a transparent plastic bag he was carrying.

  • CactusMcHarris


    Cactus smugglers – tell me more.

  • platethief

    And it’s not just ‘the Chinese’ who fell for it, seems ‘the Koreans’ did too.

    And none other than the finest Korean English language daily, with the highest standards of reportage. comment, information and insught, The Korea Times:

    I hope they’re being subsidized by a North, not South, Korean readership.

  • R. Elgin

    Hehe, the Koreatimes is for the cat’s litterbox and the cat hates it.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    I don’t think Ye Olde KT fell for it this time, but they really should have reported that The Onion is a satirical site.

    I think their inclusion of past winners makes it obvious that they knew. The problem is that Koreans probably don’t know who Ted Kaczynski and Bernie Madoff were.

    I know that I previously posted that I thought that Asians in general lack an irony filter, but is it possible that anyone could really miss this? And if so, when they told a friend that their friend would miss this too?

  • Bendrix

    East Asians do lack an irony filter to a degree, or at least one that catches “Western” style sarcasm, satire, etc. My Japanese wife treats me like I’m crazy when I make certain jokes, or tends to treat ironic humor with contempt. ‘Oh, you’re being sarcastic?’ she’ll ask and she doesn’t really think it’s humorous at all. I know Koreans are sarcastic sometimes in a lighthearted way, but I don’t think satire is used often as a device for serious criticism, is it?

  • platethief

    I wish I could share your optimism, Joe. But unfortunately KT has a history of copying and pasting from un-credible news sources without doing any fact-checking. I tried to find the link to a previous piece about an extra-terrestrial spaceship being found but it appears to have been taken down. Rag of paper.

  • KrZ

    The Korean original notes that the site is satire – “신랄한 풍자물로 유명한 인터넷매체”

  • Pyotr

    It’s not an Asian thing, more like an “any moron who doesn’t appreciate satire thing” who doesn’t get the Onion.

    One problem is that The Onion doesn’t do satire. Rather, it is a humourless little rag that takes monotonously formulaic snide shots at soft targets.

    It just isn’t funny unless you are extremely simple minded – the kind of person who could watch “Family Guy” or “Sponge Bob Square Pants” without wincing.

  • r.rac

    well now the NY Times has a mention of it along with the article being carried in the Korea Times

    Also Chris Matthews mentioned it on his sideshow segment during todays edition of “Hardball”

  • KrZ


    “Will Tracy, its author, said in a telephone interview that he believed People’s Daily and The Korea Times, which also picked up the story, did not realize the original was intended as a prank. He said he had thought the list of previous winners, filled with “renowned maniacs,” was enough of a red flag.”

    The fact that the Korea Times article mentions it is satire in the Korean version but not in the translation should be enough of a clue. Combine that with the other piece of mockery in the People’s Daily and it’s clear China wasn’t “tricked” in any way. If you look at their Asia section it’s chock full of stories about ROK/US vs DPRK conflict. Victor Cha’s (aid to GWB heavily involved in multilateral disarmament talks) latest book talks about the relationship between China and the DPRK. They don’t like the way the DPRK is being run much more than the US does, but they keep it propped up as a buffer. They’ve repeatedly pushed the North for economic reform. Everyone in the Chinese Communist Party knows the DPRK is a mess, and everyone on the streets in China knows it’s a disaster too. They can’t come out and directly attack an “ally” though, so some editor for the People’s Daily decides to “mistake” a piece of satire for actual coverage of Kim Jong Un. All the Chinese sites where it was getting reposted were just full of Chinese netizens laughing about the article, and none of the posters seem to think it was in any way a mistake on the People’s Daily’s part. China may be corrupt, manipulative and untrustworthy but acting like they are a bunch of blundering idiots makes the west and western media seem just as foolish. It’s like a strange piece of satire reversal.

  • dokdoforever

    Not so, the blog Shanghai list explains how the People’s Daily mistook the satirical piece as real news:

    “We have realized it is satirical,” said the editor who works on the site’s South Korea channel, one of the three channels where it was posted. He refused to give his name. When asked whether editors knew the Onion piece was satirical when the People’s Daily item was first posted, he declined to clarify, but added that they picked up the news after first seeing it on China’s state-run Guangming Daily website.
    He said that he hoped the incident wouldn’t draw too much attention.

    Alexa Olesen, again for the Associated Press (who were doing real reporting on this story while the rest of us were busy pointing and laughing), explains how the gaff came about:

    Hong Kong media picked up the piece by U.S. satirical website The Onion a week ago while explaining to readers in Chinese that it was a farce. But from there, it jumped over the Great Firewall and landed into the official, irony-free Chinese media.
    When Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV website,, ran its story on its fashion channel on Nov. 21, the story’s second paragraph clearly stated: “The Onion is a satirical news organization.”

    But, when state-run picked up the Phoenix piece a few hours later, it had morphed into straight news. The piece never mentioned that the original was a joke, instead plucking comical reader comments attached to the Phoenix story and running those.

    Five days after the Yangste piece, Beijing’s Guangming Daily website took the story for a spin, trimming its length and citing as its source. The Guangming piece was still online Wednesday and the story’s editor told The Associated Press that she had not realized it was a joke until the AP called.
    The editor, Wang Miaomiao, said she wasn’t worried about the gaffe.

    “Even if it was satire, the report itself was true. The content is not made up. Also, we have to go through a procedure to take something down from the website,” Wang said. “In addition, it is not a fabricated report, and it does not jeopardize society.”

  • KrZ

    My supposition is completely unprovable either way because no one would admit to taking an open jab at the North.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    #17 platethief: “I wish I could share your optimism, Joe. But unfortunately KT has a history of copying and pasting from un-credible news sources without doing any fact-checking. I tried to find the link to a previous piece about an extra-terrestrial spaceship being found but it appears to have been taken down. Rag of paper.”

    I remember that one and have it bookmarked somewhere.

    Here’s my all-time favorite:

    Venturing Out in Land of Morning Calm

    Dear editor,

    As someone who has tutored a lot in Itaewon, Seoul, and worked with a lot of Koreans over my illustrious career, one thing distresses me to no end when I’m working in Korea: Canadian flags.

    They’re everywhere. They’re sewn onto the backpacks of numerous drunken Canadians staggering in and out of nightclubs. They’re being waved by loud Canadians in the bars in Itaewon.

    They’re on the clothing of Canadians selling marijuana. They’re all over the place, kind of like Canadian English teachers with fake diplomas.

    Why can’t Canadians be more subtle? I like to wear my flowered shirts to represent my days on the beach in southern California and my mustache represents my Jewish heritage.

    But when I’m in the City that Sparkles, the only flag I like to see is the one that represents the Land of the Morning Calm. I go to Korea to be in Korea, not Canada.

    So to the drunk guys in maple leaf shirts the other night who were talking about how Korean women worship Canadian men, I didn’t see any women at your table, so get over yourselves. Try showing a little bit of respect to the Korean people who clothe you and feed you.

    In short, Canadians in Korea think they’re kings, but there really emperors with no clothes. Maybe they could use a fig leaf, or perhaps a little maple leaf.

    Ronald H. Hogg
    Inglewood, Calif.

    The only way I could enjoy it more is if I had written it myself. I’m pea green with envy. The sheer chutzpah of that flower shirt wearin’, heat packin’, mustachioed Californian. I’d give my left nut to have balls the size of Ronald Jeremy.

  • dokdoforever

    Joe – maybe you should give it a shot.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    dokdoforever, thanks for the implied compliment, but I’m not that good, and he only left me AIDS infested and child molestation to work with.

  • dokdoforever

    An interesting piece about the rise of political satire in China coinciding with use of the internet. Looks as though a ;egacu pf authoritarian rule was mostly responsible for supressing satire.

  • dokdoforever

    ‘legacy of authoritarian rule’

  • dokdoforever

    This NY times article is pretty interesting – about bloggers using subtle satire to evade internet censorship in China.