North Korea Threatens Damage "Thousands of Times Greater" Than Sony Hack Against US

North Korea Threatens Damage "Thousands of Times Greater" Than Sony Hack Against US
Source: AP
Source: AP

North Korea warned the U.S. on Sunday that any punishment levied against the isolated nation over the hacking attack on Sony pictures would lead to damage "thousands of times greater" than the massive cyber-attack, including strikes against the White House, the Pentagon and "the whole U.S. mainland." 

The threat came after President Obama announced Sunday he would consider putting North Korea back on the U.S. terror list just six years after the country was removed from it.

"The army and people of the DPRK are fully ready to stand in confrontation with the U.S. in all war spaces including cyber-warfare space to blow up those citadels," said the country's National Defense Commission in a long, rambling statement posted by state-run news agency KCNA. "Fighters for justice including [Sony hacker group] Guardians of Peace ... are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world."

In an interview with CNN on Sunday, President Obama claimed that the U.S. doesn't consider the massive Sony hack, which released thousands of sensitive documents and led to the cancellation of the Seth Rogan/James Franco vehicle The Interview, an "act of war."

"No, I don't think it was an act of war, I think it was an act of cyber-vandalism that was very costly, very expensive," Obama said. "We take it very seriously."

Obama did say that the U.S. would "respond proportionately," which includes reviewing whether the U.S. should put North Korea back on the State Department's list of terror states. North Korea came off the list in just 2008 after being included for two decades.

Previously, the hermit nation had taken a somewhat different tone, even offering to hold a joint inquiry with the U.S. into the cyberattack in order to refuse the "groundless allegations" spread by the U.S.

The FBI officially stated on Friday that the agency has enough evidence to conclude that the North Korean government was, in fact, responsible for the hack. Malicious software used in the Sony attacked reportedly revealed links to malware previously used by North Koreans in a cyber-attack in March 2013 against South Korean banks and media organizations.

North Korea has a history of releasing long, grandiose threats against the U.S. and other Western countries, and the most recent jab at the U.S. may simply be an effort to save face.

"North Korea would never admit it is responsible for the Sony hacking,'' Kim Jin Moo, a North Korea researcher at South Korea's state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul, told Bloomberg News. ''It can't afford consequences like being put back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Yet it has to make sure its threat is taken seriously."

Correction: Dec. 23, 2014
An earlier version of this article described North Korea as an "island nation." North Korea is on a peninsula.

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Jared Keller

Jared Keller is the former director of news at Mic.

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