- By Isaac Stone FishIsaac Stone Fish is FP's Asia editor. A Mandarin speaker, he lived in China for seven years before moving to Washington, D.C. His articles have also appeared in the New York Times, the Economist, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, and he has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC, the BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, and PRI, among others.
The People’s Daily Online, the internet mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, has decided to take the Onion at its word. After the satirical American paper annointed North Korean President Kim Jong Un as this year’s sexiest man alive for his "devestatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, the People’s Daily ran a 55-page slideshow featuring photos of the leader. Here’s Kim rubbing a nurse’s cheek. Here’s Kim holding a baby in front of a crying woman. Here’s Kim clapping in front of other clapping people. And so on…
This isn’t the first time the Onion has been taken as news. In September Iran’s official FARS News Agency plagiarized a story from the satirical newspaper entitled "Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama." And the Beijing newspaper Evening News once sourced the Onion on a story reporting that U.S. Congresspeople demanded a Capitol Building with more concession stands and a retractable roof.
Other Chinese media outlets have realized that The Onion is a satirical newspaper. Six days ago Pheonix Online Fashion, part of the Chinese Pheonix Media conglomerate, published an article mentioning that Chinese netizens have been joking that "power is an aphordisiac."
But the People’s Daily Online, in both its English and Chinese websites, seemed to miss the joke. The Onion updated its original post with the message: "For more coverage on The Onion’s Sexiest Man Alive 2012, Kim Jong-Un, please visit our friends at the People’s Daily in China, a proud Communist subsidiary of The Onion, Inc. Exemplary reportage, comrades."