In Brief

North Korean military warns UK over Channel 4 drama

Pyongyang calls the fictional thriller a 'politically motivated provocation' backed by Downing Street

Pyongyang has called a political thriller commissioned by Channel 4 a "slanderous farce" and has threatened to sever diplomatic ties with the UK if the series is broadcast. 

The Channel 4 drama Opposite Number will follow CIA and MI6 agents working on an undercover mission in Pyongyang to secure the release of a kidnapped British nuclear scientist before he is forced to help the country's nuclear weapons programme.

North Korea's top military body, the National Defence Commission (NDC) has called it "mud-slinging" and described it as part of a "premeditated politically-motivated provocation", according to the KCNA news agency. It said the show was designed "to hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership".

It went on to dismiss the show's writers as "hooligans and rogues under the guise of artistes" who are intent on spreading lies about North Korea. The show had been "orchestrated at the tacit connivance, patronage and instigation by 'Downing Street'", added the NDC.

The statement ends with a warning that the UK "would be well advised to judge itself what consequences would be entailed if it ignores the DPRK's warning".

Westminster, however, seems unfazed by the threats, telling the Daily Telegraph: "It is for Channel 4 to decide upon its programming schedule. British media is editorially independent of the British government, and as such we would not be involved in the development or production of programmes."

The UK currently maintains diplomatic relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and even has an embassy in Pyongyang. Westminster insists its policy is one of "critical engagement" with regards to the country's nuclear programme and poor human rights record.

The show is written by British playwright and screenwriter Matt Charman. "North Korea is one of the last truly impenetrable nations on the planet, and one of the most dangerous for the West," says Charman. "I wanted to write a drama that could blow the lid off our understanding of who we think the North Korean people are and what their government truly wants."

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