A North Korean defector has sent thousands of copies of The Interview into his homeland by balloon, risking the wrath of Kim Jong-un’s regime.
Lee Min-bok told CNN that he had defied threats from the North to release thousands of DVDs of the film, attached to helium balloons, on four occasions since January.
The releases – the most recent of which saw 80,000 copies of the film released into the sky on Saturday – are carried out at night and with little fanfare so as not to alert the North Korean border guards, who have in the past attempted to shoot down the balloons.
The North Korean government has also threatened to launch retaliatory artillery strikes against release sites, which has caused concern in South Korean communities close to the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone.
The South Korean government has said it is unable to force Mr Lee and other defectors to halt the balloon launches as it is a matter of free speech.
Just knowing how much effort the North Korean government has put into stopping The Interview being seen by its citizens has encouraged Mr Lee to carry out the launches.
“The regime hates this film because it shows Kim Jong-un as a man, not a god,” Mr Lee said. “He cries and is afraid like us, and then he is assassinated.”
The portrayal of Mr Kim as a fan of Katy Perry pop music with a complex is in stark contrast to the image that the North’s media likes to put out of a man they refer to as The Young General.
Mr Lee also insists that his low-tech battle with the North should have the support of the South Korean government.
“We can help towards reunification with these balloons,” he told CNN. “It costs millions of dollars to buy a F-22 fighter jet, which the South Korean government insist they need. So why do civilians like me have to do this under the cover of darkness?”
The controversial comedy, starring Seth Rogan and James Franco, triggered outrage in Pyongyang for a fictional plotline that saw two television journalists sent to assassinate the North Korean leader.
State media declared the slapstick movie to be an “act of war” and threatened “merciless countermeasures” unless the film was cancelled.
Shortly before it was due to be released, hackers attacked the film and television divisions of Sony Pictures Entertainment, putting a number of films that were awaiting release on web sites and causing losses of tens of millions of pounds.