The US has imposed new sanctions on North Korea over the Sony hack, and Slate writer Anne Applebaum finds it strange that a screwball comedy forced the hand of the White House, while "multiple reports of massive human rights abuse over many decades never had the same effect." This is a country that sends political foes—and their families—to labor camps for life and that lets its own people starve. And yet it took the hacking of a movie studio to trigger penalties.
The problem is that "we can comprehend Sony," writes Applebaum, but we can't seem to comprehend the rest of what's going on there. "There is something about the harshness and the evil nature of the North Korean regime that defies imagination: It’s so bizarre that it makes us laugh rather than cry." But maybe there's hope from an unexpected source? At Vox, Alex Abad-Santos is glad that for all its crudeness and slapstick comedy, Seth Rogen's movie The Interview avoids portraying Kim Jong-Un as a "clownish Asian stereotype." Perhaps it's a sign that we're moving away from the representation of "goofballs" toward something more honest. Click for the full column, or for Applebaum's full column. (Read more North Korea stories.)