If you're the editor of a free commuter newspaper that few outside Australia have probably heard of, what's the best course of action when the world's most repressive regime picks a fight with you? As one private citizen from Alaska might say, "Don't retreat, RELOAD!"
Today, that's exactly what editors of the Australian newspaper mX, which reports a circulation of 226,000 in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, did in response to a comically belligerent editorial published yesterday by Korea's official mouthpiece KCNA. "N. Korea launches missive," reads the cheeky front page. The story's headline: "Pyongyang goes ballistic over mX tally."
If you're just catching up to this international incident, it all started when KCNA rebutted a tongue-in-cheek infographic by mX yesterday, calling it a "rogue paper" that will be "cursed long in Olympic history." Even now, no one can really grasp why Pyongyang bothered to respond at all. Sure, mX called North Korea "Naughty Korea" in a graphic listing the medal count for various countries, but this is the same country that gets called a state sponsor of terrorism, an illegal proliferator of nuclear weapons and a human rights abuser nearly every day. You'd think "naughty" might fly under the radar.
But since it went out of its way, Pyongyang's belligerence provided a great opportunity for mX to raise its profile. The paper, owned by News Corp's Australian publishing arm, is now having a field day needling the regime for getting its name wrong:
The missive includes bizarre lines like: "[the paper] behaved so sordid" in "this bullying act", which was "foolish, degrading" ... Fortunately for mX, which has editions in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, the regime believes the paper is called Brisbane Metro.
It's even used the incident as a marketing opportunity:
Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane commuters can pick up a free copy today of your city's "naughty" mX, chastised by North Korea, to read the full story.
The editors of its regional branches, Claire Sutherland (Melbourne mX), Craig Herbert (Sydney mX) and Emma Chalmers (Brisbane mX) also took the opportunity to release a statement affirming the publication's place in the world:
"mX is widely known for its irreverent take on the news and the London 2012 Olympics are being approached with that perspective in mind.
"The two teams (South Korea and North Korea) were sitting in fourth and fifth spot respectively on the medal ladder and we thought it would be a humorous, but harmless way of differentiating between the two, and a reflection on how much of the western world views the two countries."
Hey, if the opportunity is there, milk it! We're hotly-anticipating a response from KCNA.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.