BEIJING -- Who says the Chinese Communist Party doesn't have a sense of humor?
People's Daily, the party's official mouthpiece, ran a large feature on its website Tuesday about North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong Un, being named the Onion's "Sexiest Man Alive."
The only glitch was that the People's Daily didn't seem to realize that the Onion is a satirical newspaper.
Instead, in breathless deadpan style, the People's Daily quoted the Onion's assessment of Mr. Kim's sexiness:
"With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman's dream come true. Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper's editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle and, of course, that famous smile."
The People's Daily Web article, headlined "North Korea's top leader named the Onion's Sexiest Man Alive for 2012," was accompanied by 55 pages of photographs, the first one being a recently released shot of Mr. Kim on horseback, squinting into the light, and another of him waving toward a military parade. In other photos, he is wearing sunglasses and smiling, or touring a facility with his wife.
Mr. Kim, a pudgy man in his late 20s, became North Korea's leader in December 2011, after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. The Chinese Communist Party maintains close ties with Pyongyang's ruling Workers' Party.
Even without help from the Onion, People's Daily frequently runs features about North Korea so fawning as to suggest parody.
A recent People's Daily article about the unveiling of statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il contained this line: "The erection of the statues of the illustrious commanders at the university marks a great event reflecting the steadfast will of all the service personnel of the Korean People's Army to glorify the immortal revolutionary exploits performed by the Generalissimos for all ages."
Other recent features in People's Daily website include "Fashion in DPRK" and "DPRK's top leader enjoys concert," using North Korea's formal acronym.
This is not the first time the Chinese state media have been fooled by a spoof in the Onion. In 2002, a satirical piece suggesting that the U.S. Congress would leave Washington, D.C., if it didn't get a better building was reported as a straight news story by the Beijing Evening News. The Onion article was a spoof of the way sports teams threaten to leave cities in order to induce their governments or taxpayers to spend for new stadiums.
Two months ago, Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency reprinted a story from The Onion about a supposed survey showing that most rural white Americans would rather vote for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than President Barack Obama. It included a quote from a fictional West Virginia resident saying he would rather go to a baseball game with Mr. Ahmadinejad because "he takes national defense seriously."
Associated Press contributed.