Apple reverses its decision rejecting smartphone game mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un
Apple initially rejected the Little Dictator game under guidelines in the App Store that state the company will remove any app deemed defamatory, or targets individuals or groups. The app developer Built Games, however, submitted an appeal that Apple ended up accepting.
Apple allows polarizing mobile game
The Cupertino-based tech giant’s decision to publish the controversial game raises a number of questions. There are concerns whether freedom of speech should protect a clearly defamatory game. The Little Dictator Game involves guiding Kim Jong Un as he rides through North Korea’s capital so he can ensure they land and destroy the west.
Players have to tap the screen to navigate the missiles over and under rockets. Players can unlock rockets and power-ups throughout the game including Golf clubs, and rabbits propelled by rainbow farts.
Game developer determined to appeal app
Built Games’ Mike Pagano argued the game was more light-hearted than defamatory. The request was submitted as soon as he received the negative response from Apple. Pagano figured Apple would accept the game, but had a backup plan that would change the game to meet App Store criteria. Of note, the modified Little Rockets game had no problem getting accepted on Google Play.
North Korea has been the brunt of many jokes and parodies in recent years. Before the release of last year’s movie The Interview, a group called Guardians of Peace hacked Sony Pictures with demands to cancel the film. The controversial picture was a fictional comedy about the attempted assassination of Jong Un. Jeh Johnson (U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security) published an official statement claiming the cyber attack on Sony was an attack on freedom of speech. The Interview was made available online for purchase and rental on Christmas Eve, then released to a small number of theaters on Christmas Day.