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North Korea Internet Outage Accusations Not Worth Response, Official Says

A White House official said North Korean is trying to provoke a response with claims the U.S. shut down internet in the country.

The White House on Saturday refused to deny North Korea's accusations that the United States shut down the country’s Internet in retaliation for its alleged hacking attack over the movie “The Interview,” with an administration official saying the claim wasn’t worthy of an answer.

"That’s exactly what North Korea wants, to provoke a response," a White House official told NBC News. On Saturday an unnamed spokesman for North Korea’s National Defence Commission denied it carried out the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and accused the U.S. of "disturbing the Internet operation" of the country.

North Korea suffered Internet outages beginning Monday, days after the U.S. government said North Korea was behind the hacking attack on Sony and promised a "proportional response." The White House has not officially confirmed or denied any involvement, but two government officials have told NBC News that the U.S. played no role in the outages.

The North Korean statement carried in state-controlled media also referred to President Barack Obama as a "monkey" and blamed the president personally for the release of the movie. The White House official said North Korea media have made similar racial slurs in the past, and reiterated objections that such insults are "particularly ugly and disrespectful."

The hack attack nearly stopped the release of "The Interview," a Seth Rogen comedy that depicts the fictional assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. It was eventually released to smaller theaters and online.


— Chris Jansing and Phil Helsel