In a hilarious if increasingly common example of a real newspaper taking a satirical newspaper seriously, the People's Daily—the website for the Communist Party of China's newspaper—published a story on Tuesday congratulating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on being named 2012's "Sexiest Man Alive" by the Onion.
"U.S. website The Onion has named North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un as the 'Sexiest Man Alive' for the year 2012," the story announces before quoting the Onion's sarcastic write-up:
"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," it said.
"He has that rare ability to somehow be completely adorable and completely macho at the same time," said Marissa Blake-Zweiber, editor of the Onion Style and Entertainment.
The accompanying 55-page slideshow includes images of Kim in varying degrees of sexiness—riding a horse, posing with military leaders, aiming a rifle, riding a horse and, uh, riding a horse.
Of course, this isn't the first time the Onion's sarcasm has been lost in translation.
In 2002, the Beijing Evening News picked up an Onion story asserting the U.S. Congress would leave Washington "unless a new Capitol is built."
In September 2011, Capitol Police in Washington were forced to investigate after the Onion's Twitter feed teased a satirical article—"Congress Takes Group of Schoolchildren Hostage"—with a series of tweets proclaiming breaking news of a hostage situation inside the Capitol building.
A month later, the Onion caused real confusion when it published a satirical story—"Study Finds Every Style of Parenting Produces Disturbed, Miserable Adults"—that cited the California Parenting Institute in its findings.
The real institute was soon deluged with emails and phone calls from concerned residents.
And in September, Iranian news agency Fars plagiarized an Onion story that claimed an "overwhelming majority of rural white Americans" would prefer Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over President Barack Obama.