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An apparently doctored image issued by the North Korean government on Tuesday shows "landing and anti-landing drills." (AFP/Getty Images)

North Korea Caught Photoshopping ... Again (Do We Care?)

by Claire O'Neill
Mar 29, 2013

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This image to the right, released by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), was taken within seconds of the one to its left (released by Kyodo News). An analysis shows that the right-hand image was digitally altered, removing the cluster of men from the left edge and enhancing the perfect line of mourners.

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Claire O'Neill

Perhaps we should be up in arms, if you'll excuse the pun, but we can't claim to be shocked that North Korea has released what appears to be another doctored photo.

In this one, as The Atlantic's Alan Taylor pointed out, several hovercraft seem to have been copied, pasted and poorly smudged into a scene illustrating North Korean military drills.

NPR originally included the photograph on a blog post. Getty Images, the wire service that provided the image, has since removed it from its website but has not issued a statement.

A doctored photo from North Korea would be nothing new. We wrote a story in December 2011 about a doctored image of Kim Jung Il's funeral. It happens all the time — and the North Korean government isn't the only perpetrator.

In another memorable instance from a few years back, Iran released a doctored image of missiles — which practically sparked a meme.

The website Boing Boing invited readers to submit their own satirical images in a feature called Iran: You Suck at Photoshop.

Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin wrote that perhaps the bigger error in these situations is not necessarily the actual photo manipulation — since we kind of suspect it — but the fact that we continually publish these government-issued images.

On the other hand, the manipulated photos are often exposed eventually. And more to the point, they may not be intended for Western audiences. They are probably more useful as domestic propaganda in places like North Korea and Iran.

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