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Chinese people flock to video-streaming sites for ‘Interview’

December 26, 2014
Christmas Day moviegoers take a photograph with an advertisement for the film "The Interview" that is playing at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014. The film's Christmas Day release was canceled by Sony after threats of violence by hackers linked to North Korea, but the release was reinstated in some independent theaters and through a variety of digital platforms. (AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Andy Jacobsohn)

Christmas Day moviegoers take a photograph with an advertisement for the film “The Interview” that is playing at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014. The film’s Christmas Day release was canceled by Sony after threats of violence by hackers linked to North Korea, but the release was reinstated in some independent theaters and through a variety of digital platforms. (AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Andy Jacobsohn)

BEIJING (Yonhap) — Hundreds of thousands of Chinese Web users have flocked to illegal video-streaming sites to see the “The Interview,” a Sony Pictures parody film about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The satire film, which debuted in some 300 theaters across the United States on Christmas Day, has drawn international attention as Washington blamed Pyongyang for hacking the Hollywood studio last month.

Sony had decided to cancel the Christmas Day release amid hackers’ threats against theaters showing the movie but eventually reversed the decision, making it available online on YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Video.

As of Friday evening, more than 1 million views of “The Interview” were recorded in three illegal Chinese video-streaming sites, including Acfun.tv. On the Acfun.tv site alone, the number of views hit about 571,000.

China’s ruling Communist Party puts a tight censorship on the Internet and the name of the Sony film is not available on major search engines, including Baidu.com, on Friday.

Asked about the illegal Chinese video-streaming sites putting “The Interview” online, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing that she was not aware of it.

“As for, what you mentioned, some Chinese Web sites showing a pirated version of the film, I am not aware of that,” Hua said. “The Chinese government is firmly cracking down on this kind of piracy.”

North Korea denied involvement in the hacking attack on Sony but lauded it as a “righteous deed.” It proposed a joint investigation with the United States, claiming that it has a way to prove it has nothing to do with the case.

But the U.S. rejected the North’s suggestion and said it believes the North is responsible.

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