Seeing The Interview doesn’t hurt North Korea and Kim Jong Un — it helps them
Kim Jong Un isn’t stupid: he knows that his impoverished state is far weaker than the US or South Korea or Japan, any of which would just love to see his government collapse. North Korea can only deter those enemies by being more threatening and dangerous. It will never be stronger, so it has to be crazier instead, always more willing to escalate.
This has been effective: Americans consistently rate North Korea as one of the greatest threats to the United States, though it is in fact a frail country with decades-old military equipment and an economy smaller than Jamaica’s. North Korea works hard to convince Americans of this, publishing reams of propaganda portraying itself as a serious threat.
The Sony hack, then, has been a breathtaking success for Kim Jong Un. Americans are so convinced of North Korea’s power, and of its belligerence, that they see the act of simply watching a movie in their hometown theater or streaming online as a show of brave defiance. And they see America as not just in conflict with North Korea, but that conflict as so important that families will spend their Christmas watching a movie perceived to be a part of the conflict. Even Vladimir Putin could never have dreamed of a propaganda victory so resounding.