This image has been tampered with to combine unrelated photographs taken in different locations

ByDavid M. Conte

Nov 23, 2021


An image purported to show senior South Korean officials smiling under a banner welcoming North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was shared in several Facebook posts in South Korea. The image, however, has been tampered with. It was created by combining two photographs taken at different places.

Image has been shared here on Facebook on November 17, 2021, next to a Korean text that reads “Strange people”.

Screenshot of the deceptive post on Facebook. Captured November 18, 2021.

The picture shows five senior South Korean officials smiling under a banner in Korean that reads, “Welcome President Kim Jong-un. Peace and prosperity.”

The officials seen in the photo, from left to right, are: Deputy Prime Minister Hong Nam-ki, former Prime Minister Lee nak-yon, former president of the Democratic Party Lee hae-chan, former principal secretary of the Blue House for policies Kim sang-jo and former principal secretary of the Blue House for political affairs Kang Ki-jung.

The text superimposed on the bottom of the image reads: “Look at the letters on the banner on the back. Are they not fools? “

The same image was also shared on Facebook here, here, here and here.

However, the image is tampered with by combining two unrelated photographs.

A photo of the banner posted in September 2018 has been cropped and digitally inserted into a photo showing the officials meeting in August 2019.

Banner photo

A reverse image search on Google revealed the banner photo had been posted here on Naver Blog, a South Korean social media platform.

The message, dated November 26, 2018, includes the caption: “A banner welcoming Kim Jong-un brazenly hung in the middle of Chungjeong-ro in the Republic of Korea !!!”

Below is a screenshot comparison of the top of the forged image (left) and the original photo posted on the Naver blog (right):

Comparison of screenshots

The original photo shows an apartment complex, with the word “Richion” visible on the side, towering behind the building holding the banner.

Thanks to Google Maps, AFP was able to geolocate the building as the Daerim Chungjeong Richion apartment in Chungjeong-ro in Seoul, as seen below.

South Korean officials

A separate reverse image search on Google found the photo showing senior South Korean officials making up the bottom portion of the forged image was released here by South Korean news agency Yonhap News on August 27, 2019.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the lower portion of the forged image (left) and the original photo posted by Yonhap News (right):

Comparative screenshot of lower part of image shared on Facebook (L) and original photograph posted by Yonhap News (R)

The caption of the photo reads: “Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon speaks with participants of a high-level meeting of the party, government and Blue House held at the Prime Minister’s office in Samcheong -dong, in Jongno district, Seoul on the morning of 27.

From left to right, Vice Premier Hong Nam-ki, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, Democratic Party Chairman Lee Hae-chan, Blue House Senior Secretary for Politics Kim Sang-jo and the Principal Secretary of the Blue House for Political Affairs Kang Ki- June 2019.8.27. “

Other photographs of the same officials at the meeting can be seen here and here on Yonhap News, as well as here and here published by Newspim, another South Korean news agency.