Shocking: North Korea Doctored Photo of Kim Jong-il’s Funeral

News photo agencies EPA, AFP, and Reuters have all issued kill orders for a photo of Kim Jong-il’s funeral procession released by the Korean Central News Agency, the state news agency of North Korea. The photo (above at bottom) raised red flags after a comparison with a Kyodo News photo taken just seconds earlier revealed that a number of people had vanished from the scene. The New York Times writes,

A side-by-side comparison of the full images does point to a possibly banal explanation: totalitarian aesthetics. With the men straggling around the sidelines, a certain martial perfection is lost. Without the men, the tight black bands of the crowd on either side look railroad straight.

Perhaps it was a simple matter of one person gilding the lily.

Here’s a closer look at the edited section of the photo:

The edit clearly violates the policies of news photo agencies, but public opinion is mixed. The comments sections of news articles reporting on the story are filled with people arguing that the incident is “much ado about nothing”, and that such edits should be allowed in photojournalism as long as the meaning in the photograph isn’t changed.

(via NYT)

  • Anonymous

    The only surprising thing about this is that Korean Central News Agency’s photo resembles reality at all.

  • Wiley

    Shocking indeed. Clearly the Korean News agency metered correctly and got nice white snow. The Japanese were so obviously on Program mode.

  • Donna Trussell

    The meaning is changed by the fact that people or objects could be removed and the picture was still considered a news photograph. Propaganda has always been big on aesthetics, so that’s no excuse.

  • Joe

    If anything, I’d expected this article to expose the fact they’d added mourners rather than removed a few stragglers. Anyone else guess what years those vehicles were manufactured? Additionally, am I alone in thinking the billboard bearing the man’s image attached to the roof of the car is more tacky than respectful?

  • Eren Eriş

    it looks great than first one

  • Sam

    So what, image manipulation to polish reputation. Why should this regime be bettar than fakers in the free world? Even they added black roses and white doves and more portraits, if that’s what they wanna look like to the rest of the world, be it that way. Does anyone care about the funeral that much?

  • Mark

    A Government news agency doctored a photo…! I’m shocked , just shocked. Our Western Governments would never do something like that……..:)

  • Anonymous

    If it’s an art photo or such, I have no problem with photos being altered.  I have a problem with using photos which objects were deleted and calling it a news photo because the scene was altered.  As it sits though, that’s far from the worst that can be done.

  • Andrew

    photoshoped yes, but pictures can be manipulated
    in-camera…Anyone remember the toppling of the saddam hussein statue in Iraq,
    it looked like there were hundreds of people going nuts, but in reality there wasn’t
    that many people there, great propaganda piece. It’s all about where you are
    and where you point the camera/video camera………but that’s a perfectly
    acceptable way of bending the truth.

  • Ian Ludwig

    Issued a “kill” order for a funeral procession…interesting and ironic at the same time.

  • David Thunander

    Whoooooo caaaaares lookes better now.

  • Draws With Light

    Shocking? Not at all! Nor is it unexpected. This is North Korea.

  • Zapp

    there’s nothing shocking about that once you’ve seen shopped photos by fox.

  • Tran-Shawn Yu

    Actually, if you look in the lower right section of the photo, that crowd is definitely larger (thicker) than the crowd in the original photo.

  • Anonymous

    It is only because the angle is slightly wider. The front of the first car in the lower photo should be cut off to get about the same crop.

  • Davin

    It is just the next frame, all the cars moved, thats what they do.All they did was adjust the contrast. 

  • wickerprints

    Fox News pulls this kind of crap all the time, yet where is the self-righteous indignation over their propaganda?

  • kendon

    reading and looking at pictures isn’t your strong part, is it?

  • Eli Snook

    neither is yours, because he is right, all the cars have moved forward.  it’s also a wider angle and looks like it was shot from a lower perspective, perhaps from the same camera just zoomed back a bit at the next frame. the buildings look smaller and even one building shows in the second photo that’s not in the first (top left).  There are countless other differences.  I think some things have been doctored like the people standing bottom left. 

  • Ryan

    this article isn’t about the same photo being changed. They are different photos… that’s what the articles says in the very first paragraph, second sentence in.

    It’s about what was changed. And moreover.. why. And less trivially… who.

  • Andrew

    And you
    are wrong, the two images are from different cameras…read the article, one
    pic from a Korean photographer and one from a Japanese photographer…

    you said,
    and I quote “I think some things have been doctored like the people
    standing bottom left.”

    of course it’s
    been photoshoped… you really think they would release the first picture, then
    think lets photoshop it and release it again!!!!!

  • Zapp

    I guess their photoshopping skills are just so bad that no one really cares ;)

  • 3point9

    I don’t know but you but North Korea nailed it! Kudos.

  • guest

    You mean professional mode.

  • mcb

    Andrew. There is a difference between the photographers perspective… and just blatently taking out something in the photograph. News is news, photojournalists and editors are not allowed to just take something out. We have a code of ethics to provide the truth and nothing but… and when people go out on these stupid forums and start downgrading that, then you wonder why people lie about the truth, all of the time…. but the same people will bitch when lied too.. what is different about a photograph?

  • Chris

    Well it looks like they took out a media crew. That is definity a change in the meaning of the photo given N.Korea’s relationship with media and the truth.

  • Lee Young

    yeah, BBC wouldn’t be bothered doctoring an image at all, they’ll just use a fake one (

  • Guest

    Maybe the crews were killed after the first picture? Hahaha.. still can’t think why they had to remove the media crew from the picture.

  • Paul Martin

    This was done for internal purposes as well. The N.Koreans are known for ‘reverence’ for all things political so taking out the camera and crew avoids any sense of ‘insult’ by the citizenship within N.Korea