Largest Balloon Drop of 'The Interview' Underway Over North Korea (Exclusive)
Human rights activists successfully completed their secret mission — on Kim Il Sung's birthday, no less — despite drastic measures to keep the film from ever reaching the Hermit Kingdom, where citizens could be executed for watching the forbidden movie.
Human-rights activists have sent 10,000 copies of slimmed-down versions of The Interview sailing over North Korea, attached to giant balloons to be scattered across the countryside, the latest in a dramatic effort to give some of the 25 million residents of the sealed-off country access to portions of a movie that dictator Kim Jong Un tried so desperately to keep them from.
Despite some wildly inflated reports to the contrary, Wednesday's successful drop is the largest of its kind and comes after similar efforts failed a week ago because police in South Korea — worried about the consequences of antagonizing the dangerous dictatorship to the north — forcibly stopped the activists from completing their missions.
The Hollywood Reporter spent a week in South Korea tagging along with the activists responsible for Wednesday's massive balloon drop.
Except that SK sends aid up North and cooperates with the Kaesong Industrial Complex without considering it to be propping up the regime.
China already provides the regime with financial support that amounts to a trade gap of about $1 billion a year. In other words since about 2008, North Korea imports about $1 billion more annually from China than it exports, said Bruce Bennett, senior defense analyst at the RAND Corp., a nonprofit research group. "So North Korea is running an unpayable debt to China—China is essentially subsidizing North Korea," Bennett said.
China is offsetting this trade gap in part by purchasing North Korean mineral rights and other North Korean resources. But the residual trade gap can be interpreted as Chinese foreign aid to North Korea, Bennett said.
Chinese leadership, above all else, wants stability in the region. Beyond triggering a refugee crisis, a sudden North Korea collapse would overwhelm the local economies. And that would be unwelcome for China, which already is reaching a key inflection point.
No, China Isn't Abandoning North Korea
The idea that Beijing will abandon North Korea remains wishful thinking.
By David Volodzko
March 27, 2015
The idea going around in the West these days is that Beijing and Pyongyang are not on good terms. Given the regional importance and historic strength of this relationship, such claims deserve careful attention.
According to a 2015 European Council on Foreign Relations scorecard, China began distancing itself from North Korea after its 2013 nuclear test. China took further steps in 2014, meeting several times with South Korean leaders, including the July 2014 trip when Xi broke tradition by visiting Seoul before visiting Pyongyang. At the time, the Atlantic Sentinel reported that Xi is “distancing China” from Pyongyang, while The Guardian wrote, “China Snubs North Korea” and a New York Times headline read, “Chinese Annoyance with North Korea Bubbles to the Surface.” Other commentators went even further writing, “China Kinda Hates North Korea” or discussing “Why China Hates North Korea.”
The simple answer is that it probably doesn’t matter. Beijing and Pyongyang are too important to each other to end their relationship anytime soon. Brown points out that North Korea is increasingly a worry as Xi promotes the “China Dream” and the new Silk Road and improves relations abroad. However, the reason North Korea is a worry is because of its importance to the future of Asia. This is something Beijing leaders, including Xi, fully realize.