This photo of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un pointing and gesturing in a children’s hospital as his Worker’s Party comrades look on seems unremarkable at first. But on closer inspection, there is something unusual about the photo released by KCNA, Pyongyang’s official news agency.
As recognised by the attentive eye of Kotaku gaming blogger Brian Ashcraft, it appears as if Kim and his colleagues aren’t at the under construction paediatric centre at all, but rather they have been superimposed into the shot.
On closer inspection and with a few clicks of the zoom button, it becomes clear that: “closer details of fuzziness around the legs and floaty feet as well as odd shadows around the hands.” Ashcraft continues: “Kim Jong-un's hand shadow in particular looks too clean and defined.”
The way the men are lit in the photo spotted on Chinese site NetEase also fails to correspond with their surroundings. One commenter on Ashcraft’s post entitled North Korea still sucks at Photoshop wrote: “I am a photographer and the first thing I thought was a reflector or single light point above the lens was used. It tends to make the borders of subjects look artificial.”
Other visitors on the blog asked why the North Korean government thought a photo at an uncontroversial setting would need to be doctored.
This is not an isolated incident, and in March Atlantic magazine published images on their website that showed a faked hovercraft landing at a time of tension in the region over North Korea’s nuclear tests. As Alan Taylor explained: “At least two, possibly three hovercrafts appear to have been pasted into the scene.” The photo was later removed by the AFP news agency on behalf of KCNA because of “evidence of tampering”.