North Korea Blames US for Internet Shutdown – Wall Street Journal

The Plaza Theatre marquee during Sony Pictures' release of "The Interview" on Christmas Day in Atlanta, Georgia.
ENLARGE

Pyongyang’s highest decision-making body blamed the U.S. government for causing an Internet outage across its major websites and for pushing Sony Pictures Entertainment to release a satirical film that portrays the assassination of North Korean leader

Kim Jong Un.

The statement on Saturday, released through the North’s state media and attributed to a spokesman for the policy department of the National Defense Commission that Mr. Kim leads, accused the U.S. of having “feigned ignorance” about any role in the disruption of the North’s websites, which left the country’s main propaganda websites inaccessible for about nine hours on Tuesday morning.

It also called U.S. President


Barack Obama

“the chief culprit” for his “zealous prodding” of


Sony

Pictures to release “The Interview,” a comedy that angered the North. The movie was released Thursday at about 300 independently owned U.S. theaters and online via video-sharing websites such as YouTube. Sony had earlier this month canceled a larger, nationwide release of the film after a cyberattack on its systems for which the U.S. has blamed North Korea. The North has denied that charge, and vowed a counteraction against the release of the movie.

“The U.S. is adding to its crimes by screening the movie ‘The Interview,’” the statement released Saturday read. “With no rhetoric can the U.S. justify the screening and distribution of the movie.”

The North also called on the U.S. to “produce evidence without fail” to back its claims that the North was behind the hacking of Sony Pictures, and threatened retaliation.

After Sony Pictures was hacked, President Obama said the U.S. “will respond proportionately” to North Korea over the incident. Options floated included additional sanctions or placing the North back onto the U.S.’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

In a separate statement, North Korea’s state media on Saturday denied its involvement in cyberattacks on South Korea’s nuclear power plants and accused the U.S. of being behind the hacking.

“The South Korean authorities are working hard to link this case with the DPRK though the truth about it has not been probed,” the statement read. “If an investigation is made into who is behind the case, the U.S. tentacles will be disclosed.”

DPRK is the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., the operator of South Korea’s 23 nuclear reactors, said in mid-December its computer systems had been hacked and some noncritical data had been stolen.

Government officials and prosecutors in Seoul who have been investigating the case have said they haven’t ruled out the possibility of North Korea being involved in the attack.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com and In-Soo Nam at In-Soo.Nam@wsj.com

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