Occidentalism
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North Korean propaganda?

August 7th, 2006 . by Matt

It looks like a fake photograph has been floating around the South Korean news services purporting to be a picture of the Pyongyang subway train repair facility. The picture is being run on KBS news and also the Japanese edition of the JoongAngIlbo, so I have to assume it is there in the Korean edition and is perhaps being run elsewhere also.

See the picture below –

repair facility

At first sight it seems alright, but keep looking at it a few minutes, and it feels as if something is amiss. Some Japanese netizens were able to blow up the image to reveal that it is a composite photo (click here for a larger picture of the one below).

repair facility

I wonder where they got the photo. If it was from the North Korean government, I wonder if they just accept these kinds of things at face value without checking. Considering all the other stuff I have written about, like the lies about Japanese apologies involving a manga artist apology and the so called repentence marathon, the fake grave desecration by Japanese tourists, and the absolutely hysterical Korean media panic about foreign English teachers that might be having sex with Korean girls, I start to wonder what on earth is wrong with the Korean media establishment.

There are problems with the media all over the world, I know that, but it is advisable to use special caution when reading the Korean media.


7 Responses to “North Korean propaganda?”

  1. comment number 1 by: empraptor

    Actually, the picture doesn’t look at all legitimate at first glance. Everything looks off.

    Smoke from welding is cartoonish, with blurry edges and not varying in opacity. The sparks from welding should have changed the lighting on the neighboring objects, but it does not. The edges on the sparks and sparks themselves are also cartoonish.

    Edges of all objects and persons in the picture are unnatural. Shadows and lighting are not consistent. Some parts of people don’t cast shadows.

    The third welder on top of the blue machinery couldn’t possibly reach the train. Look at the base of the blue machinery, and it’s obvious he’s very far from the train he’s welding. Not only is he reaching toward the train from a position further than 6 feet from the train, he’s reaching across at an angle so that his arms are stretching to the train over a distance much greater than the shortest path between them.

    Of course, you don’t say things like this to yourself as you see the picture for the first time. But humans are very good processors of images. The fact that this picture is fake should be obvious to most people at their first glance, as they should get a strong feeling that something is wrong with it.

    This is a photoshop done by a real dumb amateur. I don’t see how anyone, let alone a jounalist or photographer, could mistake the picture as being genuine.

    Should there not an article or byline associated with the picture?

  2. comment number 2 by: Matt

    Should there not an article or byline associated with the picture?

    The caption is 평양시 낙랑구역에 있는 지하철수리공장.


  3. […] While I had just posted on the fake North Korean propaganda photo, it seems at the same time that news services (in particular Reuters) have been publishing fake pictures of Israeli attacks on Lebanon. This scandal promises to be absolutely huge. […]

  4. comment number 4 by: empraptor

    Sure there’s a one-line caption on the picture. But how do we assign accountability? Some employee/employees of these news agencies put the picture up, right? At least if there was an article associated with it, someone could be held responsible like in the faked photo of burning Beirut. Why do they not have a “posted-by” field anyway?


  5. […] [Update: Even more Hezbollah media exploitation. And Matt has a photo where the North Koreans are caught in the act, too. Check out M.C. Escher up on the blue thing, welding away with his Inspector Gadget arms. On a completely unrelated note, but on the same blog, here’s a rather interesting theory, for all six of you who haven’t seen it yet. I must say the silence is probably the most compelling part of the case.] […]

  6. comment number 6 by: Sonagi

    I echo Enraptor’s immediate reaction to the photo. The Norks can counterfeit US $100 bills that are superior to the originals, but their Photoshopping wouldn’t fool a second grader. How nice that the Workers’ Paradise provided some job training for that double amputee welder working on the back car.

  7. comment number 7 by: ponta

    The point is why S Korean media did not put a caption to the effect “this is a fake photo by North Korea”

    Is it because it is such an obvious fake photo that you don’t need to mention it?
    Or is it because the glorification of N K blinded SK media and S K media in question is so damn that it did not notice?
    Or what?