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Chinese Websites Block Insulting Names for North Korean Leader


This is What’s Trending Today:

Chinese websites are blocking search results for an insulting term for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Searches for the Chinese version of “Kim Fatty the Third” returned no results on China’s largest search engine, Baidu. Results also did not appear on the social networking website Weibo.

The nickname “Kim Fatty” has become popular in China, especially among young people, for making fun of Kim’s weight. “The Third” is used to describe him as the third member of his family to serve as North Korea’s leader.

One Twitter user asked: "How long until I'm kicked off Twitter for saying Fatty Kim the Third?"

The lack of search results is a clear sign to Chinese internet users that the information has been censored. The nickname is such a widely used term in China that it has been suggested to users by Baidu’s auto-complete tool.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the defence detachment on Mahap Islet in the western sector of the front in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 11, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the defence detachment on Mahap Islet in the western sector of the front in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 11, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA

China has a history of suppressing information the government considers harmful or unacceptable. A new report on internet freedom identified China as one of the countries with the most restrictions on online activity.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman denied the government had banned the term from appearing in internet searches.

But the official added: “The Chinese government stays committed to building a healthy and civilized environment of opinions. We disapprove of referring to the leader of any country with insulting and mocking remarks.”

Hong Kong newspapers reported that North Korea had sent a request to China, asking the government to bar the term from appearing in the media.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Kosan Combined Fruit Farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 18, 2016.KCNA via REUTERS
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Kosan Combined Fruit Farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 18, 2016.KCNA via REUTERS

China has traditionally enjoyed friendly relations with North Korea. But ties have worsened under the leadership of Kim Jong Un. Chinese officials have condemned his moves to expand North Korea’s nuclear program. China continues to provide limited trade and diplomatic support to the North.

The term “Fatty” is clearly meant to make fun of the North Korean leader’s appearance in a joking way.

Another Twitter user reacted to the news of Kim's nickname, saying "some things just make you smile."

But his weight has also been discussed by experts in news stories on health issues.

One report on CNN showed a series of photographs of Kim appearing larger over time. The reporter asked a question: Is he sick or just out of shape?

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for Learning English, based on reports from Reuters and the Associated Press. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

nickname – n. an informal name people use in place of someone’s real name

censor – v. to remove things from books, publications or the internet that are considered offensive or harmful

committed - adj. willing to give time and effort to something

refer - v. to mention something when speaking or writing

mock - v. to laugh at or make fun of someone or something

remark - n. an idea or opinion that is usually spoken

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