First he was voted the sexiest man alive. Now North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un has been voted Time magazine's "man of the year", according to the latest bungled news report that has mistaken an online story for fact.
Millions of North Koreans were told by the Korean Central News Agency this week that their leader had been elected by Time magazine as its "man of the year".
In fact, the US President, Barack Obama, took out the coveted title of Person of the Year, the second time he has been honoured by the US magazine's editors.
The Korean news agency had been fooled by an online reader poll on the Time website, which had been targeted by hackers from the website 4chan and rigged to give the supreme leader 5.6 million votes.
"The US magazine The Time selected the dear respected Kim Jong-un as 'man of 2012'," the Korean Central News Agency said.
"The magazine has selected and published 'man of the year' every year from 1927. This year, it conducted online voting among subscribers including politicians, businessmen, artistes [sic], sportspersons and announcers for the man of this year.
"More than 5.6 million people, the greatest number, voted for Kim Jong-un."
It comes after China's Communist Party newspaper proclaimed last month that Kim Jong-un had been named 2012's Sexiest Man Alive after treating a spoof award by the satirical US website The Onion as genuine.
The People's Daily website published two paragraphs lifted word for word from The Onion, along with a photo gallery of 55 images of Kim Jong-un, who took over as North Korea's leader after his father Kim Jong-Il died last December.
"With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heart-throb is every woman's dream come true," The Onion said in its original report, quoted by the People's Daily.
The Time website said Kim Jong-un had received a boost in its "completely unscientific person of the year reader poll" from members of internet forums such as 4chan, "which launched a campaign to manipulate the results, pushing North Korea's leader to the top of the list".
"Not bad for a man who didn't make an official public appearance until 2010," the magazine said.
The editors at Time choose who receives the Person of the Year title.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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