This isn’t the first time a satirical article in The Onion has been taken for serious news, but it may be the funniest time.
The Onion named North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un the “Sexiest Man Alive for 2012“.
With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true. Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper’s editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.
Then Hong Kong media reprinted the story in Chinese a week ago, but clearly stated “The Onion is a satirical news organization.” Apparently that wasn’t enough warning.
A few hours later, a state-run Chinese news channel ran the story, but as serious news. The person who reprinted it was unavailable for comment, and two other employees weren’t even sure if he still worked there!
Then another Chinese website reprinted it. The editor of that site even admitted that she had not realized that it was a joke until the Associated Press called, but claimed (without irony) “Even if it was satire, the report itself was true. The content is not made up.” Does she really think pudgy Kim Jong-Un is the sexiest man alive?
The next stop was the flagship paper of the Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Daily. They not only printed it as real news, they also included a slideshow containing 55 photos of Kim. After being told that the story was satire, they took it down.
But the best part is that before People’s Daily took down the story, The Onion updated the original story with a link to the story on the communist party website with the following shout out: “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.”