The United States has condemned “ugly and disrespectful” racist comments directed at Barack Obama by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency comparing the US president to a black “monkey” in a zoo.
North Korean propaganda is known for vitriolic personal attacks on foreign leaders, but the KCNA despatch published last Friday — not long after Obama’s visit to South Korea — stood out for its use of highly inflammatory and abusive racist language.
“The way Obama looks disgusts me,” said one worker at an ironworks factory.
“He looks like an African monkey with a black face… and protruding, hairy ears.
“And he acts just like a monkey in an African zoo… licking up the breadcrumbs thrown by visitors,” the worker said.
Four people were interviewed in total and all their comments were similar in their racist nature, with one referring to Obama as “sub-animal.”
“While the North Korean government-controlled media are distinguished by their histrionics, these comments are particularly ugly and disrespectful,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told AFP on Thursday.
Even before last Friday’s despatch, KCNA had ramped up its rhetoric in the wake of Obama’s visit to Seoul, calling South Korean President Park Geun-Hye a “prostitute” in thrall to her “pimp” Obama.
Last month, it launched an aggressively homophobic tirade against the openly gay chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights in North Korea, Michael Kirby.
Although the language used to describe Obama was exceptionally inflammatory, a number of North Korea experts have written books or theses that portray it as a country founded on race-based nationalism.
They point to prevalent propaganda painting the North Korean people as pure, innocently idealistic, and in need of protection from the rapacious and morally bankrupt outside world.