(CNN) — China, as one Twitter user wrote Tuesday, has been fooled by the “mysterious Western art of satire.”
The merciless comedy website the Onion has declared North Korean leader Kim Jong Un the “sexiest man alive for 2012.” And it appears China’s People’s Daily Online has taken the story seriously.
The Chinese story reprinted satirical comments describing Kim’s “air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side,” his “impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and,” the story says, “that famous smile.”
The story on People’s Daily Online illustrates the mutual backscratching that China and North Korea exercise through their government-run media. The incident also shows foreign media outlets’ difficulty in navigating the Onion’s brand of satire.
The Chinese website was so interested in running the story that it included a 55-page photo gallery to accompany the text.
Twitter users went wild over the editorial faux pas. “It makes me cry from another room!,” Tweeted Francesca Ulivi @fraubass.
“Not sure they know this was a joke,” wrote @loweringthebar.
Curse of the #Onion again, said Colin Freeman @colinfreeman99.
China’s misperception did not go unnoticed by the funny folks at the Onion, which pointed readers to the Chinese website: “please visit our friends at the People’s Daily in China, a proud Communist subsidiary of The Onion, Inc. Exemplary reportage, comrades.”
CNN’s Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.