The Onion strikes again: Kim Jong Un’s too sexy for parody

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 ...

Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images
Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images
Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

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."

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."

Isaac Stone Fish is a journalist and senior fellow at the Asia Society’s Center on U.S-China Relations. He was formerly the Asia editor at Foreign Policy Magazine. Twitter: @isaacstonefish

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.