Sony Pictures was the target of a massive cyber attack over the weekend that has seen the release of everything from salary information to feature length films. As if that wasn’t newsworthy enough on its own, Sony has reason to believe that North Korean hackers were behind the attack.
A group by the name of “Guardians of Peace” or GOP has taken responsibility for the attack and release of Sony Pictures’ data. The Guardians of Peace have leaked the unreleased films Annie, To Write Love on Her Arms, Still Alice, and Mr. Turner. Fury, the World War II epic starring Brad Pitt and Shia LeBeouf that’s currently in theaters, was also leaked and has been downloaded from file sharing sites approximately 1.2 million times according to Variety.
In response to the unauthorized release of their films, a Sony rep had this to say to Variety, “The theft of Sony Pictures Entertainment content is a criminal matter, and we are working closely with law enforcement to address it.”
So why exactly would the Guardians of Peace want to take down Sony Pictures? The group claims that their cyber attack was done in a move to retaliate against Sony Pictures for “terrible racial discrimination” and said that thanks to the help of “other staff with similar interests”, they were able to physically access to Sony’s network.
What “terrible racial discrimination” was Sony Pictures responsible for to draw the ire of the Guardians of Peace? The Korean digital fingerprints on the attack and the forthcoming release of the Sony film The Interview could hold the answer.
The Interview, which stars James Franco and Seth Rogan, is the story of two journalists who manage to score a rare interview with Kim Jong Un and are eventually enlisted by the CIA to try and assassinate the North Korean leader. Unsurprisingly, North Korea is none too happy about the film’s release and has threatened “merciless retaliation” against the United States and other nations if Sony goes ahead with the film’s release.
North Korea is not exactly working hard to dispel the rumors of their potential involvement in the Sony Pictures hack. A North Korean spokesperson to the United Nations had this to say when the BBC reached out, “The hostile forces are relating everything to [North Korea]. I kindly advise you to just wait and see.”
As someone who has a longstanding interest in North Korean news, this story has been filled with twists and turns worthy of a film plot. However, if life is anything like an after school special, the lesson we can learn is that anyone wanting to portray North Korea must tread carefully.