In what appears to be a case of one intolerant government scratching the back of another even though they don’t like one another much, bootleg DVDs of The Interview have been disappearing from the street carts and store shelves of vendors in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar. North Korea long ago called the Sony Pictures comedy, in which two Americans are hired by the CIA to assassinate Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, an act of international terrorism. Pyongyang has been accused by the U.S. of almost certainly being responsible for the hack of Sony computers last month that resulted in the release of thousands of confidential files.
Now the New York Times reports that local police in the former Burma, sometimes accompanied by North Korean operatives, have been confiscating copies of the film and threatening anyone selling what had become a best-seller in the city.
The movie “has now disappeared from larger DVD shops, and many roadside vendors have also stopped hawking it,” the Times reports. “Daw Thin, a DVD seller in the city’s Chinatown district, said that during a raid, a police officer she has known for a long time told her that the North Korean Embassy had provided a list of shops selling the film.”
Myanmar officials denied that The Interview had been specifically targeted in a general crackdown in illegal DVD sales. But, the Times reports, the North Korean ambassador to the Republic Of The Union Of Myanmar recently complained about the sales. The paper reports that a roadside vendor had been selling as many as 20 Interview DVD bootlegs a day and that larger shops in the city’s Chinatown district were selling as many as 100 per day.
Since its military regime was nominally replaced in 2011, Myanmar has taken some steps to alleviate a brutal human rights record. Nevertheless tensions persist and violence occurs between the Buddhist majority and several minorities, notably Rohingya Muslims. A long history of hostilities between the country and North Korea has softened in recent years, amid reports that Pyongyang has been aiding its regional neighbor in weapons procurement and other military efforts, according to the Times.