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     Dec 20, 2012

Life's a gas for award-winning Kim
By Nate Thayer

The Korean Central News Agency trumpeted a lead story today headlined "US Magazine Selects Kim Jong Un as Man of 2012" saying "The US magazine The Time selected the dear respected Kim Jong-un as 'man of 2012' after polling politicians, businessmen, artistes, sports persons and announcers." [1]

In fact, the website 4chan, a community of self-styled underground hackers skilled in computer coding, manipulated the entire online Time poll pushing Kim to the top with 5.6 million

votes - twice as much as the runner-up, "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart, with "Undocumented Immigrants" in third place.

If one scrolls down the list of the top 14 vote getters, the first letter of each name spells out "KJU Gas Chambers".

Time magazine denied on December 13 that Kim has been named its 2012 "Person of the Year" and said that "some of the highest vote tallies got a boost from members of Internet forums like 4Chan, which launched a campaign to manipulate the results, pushing North Korea's leader to the top of the list". Time magazine acknowledged its online poll had been hacked and made clear its editors would select the winner and make an announcement on December 19. The choice for Time person of the year will be made by Time editors and be announced on the Today show, on TIME.com and via Time's Twitter handle.

But apparently the North Korean government didn't read the Time announcement and, days after the country launched a ballistic missile test believed to be an attempt to perfect its ability to reach the continental US with nuclear warheads, announced that the accolade had been bestowed on the baby-faced 20-something leader on the anniversary of his first year in power.

A December 18 story from the official government news agency, KCNA, said: "The magazine has selected and published "man of the year" every year from 1927. This year... more than 5.6 million people, the greatest number, voted for Kim Jong Un." The story added that "The US magazine Forbes, dealing with the most influential persons in the world on Dec 8, carried photos of his revolutionary activities and introduced his brief biography."

In November, 4chan started a campaign to get people to vote for Kim online as Time Person of the Year, and created a program that allowed for repetitive, automatic votes, skyrocketing Kim to lead the polls.

This isn't the first time that Time has fallen victim to 4Chan hackers. In 2009, the site launched an online effort to vote its co-founder, Chris Poole, as the World's Most Influential Person, and out-polled Bernie Madoff, Oprah Winfrey and the president.

This comes only weeks after the official the Chinese party media organ, People's Daily, fell for the US satirical publication, The Onion, which named Kim the "sexiest man alive". The Onion published a spoof poll in November, naming the "devastatingly handsome" North Korean leader the world's sexiest man of 2012."

Editor's note:  1. Asia Times Online's style is the alternative spelling of Kim Jong-eun, rather than Kim Jong-un.

Nate Thayer, former Southeast Asia correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, is an investigative reporter specializing in conflict, transnational crime, and Asian affairs. He may be reached at thayernate0007@gmail.com. His website is natethayer.wordpress.com .

(Copyright 2012 Nate Thayer.) 

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