Christmas Day screening of The Interview in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles, Hollywood
Christmas Day screening of The Interview in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles, Hollywood Reuters

The North Korean government has attacked US President Barack Obama, blaming him for releasing the film The Interview, a comedy centred around a plot to kill the country's leader Kim Jong-un.

Obama was called "the chief culprit who forced the Sony Pictures Entertainment to indiscriminately distribute the movie".

The American leader was accused of taking "the lead in appeasing and blackmailing cinema houses and theatres in the US mainland to distribute the movie," North Korea's National Defence Commission (NDC) said, according to a state-run media report.

An NDC spokesman attacked the US for screening the "dishonest and reactionary movie hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK [North Korea] and agitating terrorism".

The NDC also accused also Washington of "groundlessly linking the unheard of hacking at the Sony Pictures Entertainment to the DPRK".

The NDC also denounced the US for shutting down the country's internet.

"The United States, with its large physical size and oblivious to the shame of playing hide and seek as children with runny noses would, has begun disrupting the Internet operations of the main media outlets of our republic.

"It is truly laughable."

The FBI retaliated by blaming North Korea for the cyber attack, saying the code of the malware used in the Sony hack is similar to what North Korea has used in other attacks.

Sony Pictures had decided to withdraw The Interview after cyber attack threats. However, the company had second thoughts and released the comedy on Christmas Day.

The movie was shown in some US cinemas and online, with several hundred independent theatres offering to show the film. However, larger cinemas made the decision not to screen it.

Sony arranged for direct distribution online via its own services, YouTube and through independent cinemas.

The company had originally planned to release the movie in up to 3,000 theatres, but only 331 scheduled it, after large movie theatre chains refused to screen the comedy following threats of attacks from hackers. Despite this, the film raked in $1m (£634,000) on its first day.