Taking a page out of the Iranian Photoshop propaganda playbook, North Korea has been caught altering images of a military exercise featuring a bunch of landing craft and elite DPRK soldiers storming a snowy beach.
The image has been pulled by Agence France Presse (AFP), citing excessive digital alteration. It seems to show a fleet of eight hovercrafts delivering troops ashore, but on closer inspection it appears that some of the craft were digitally added, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. It also shows that North Korea is not only short of fuel, cabbage and rice – it desperately needs fresh Photoshop tutorials as well.
AFP photo editor Eric Baradat said a simple examination of photos submitted by KCNA, the North's state news agency, is usually enough to dismiss their pictures as fakes. However, he added that the North "tends to be better with Photoshop recently".
Although the North Korean navy operates a couple hundred landing craft, it is widely seen as a bad joke – a service equipped with obsolete hardware that would probably make good museum pieces elsewhere in the world. It would be wiped out in any serious conflict, but it can still pose a serious threat, as demonstrated in the 2010 sinking of a South Korean corvette.
North Korean rhetoric is out of control, but while it can be amusing, let's not forget the bigger picture. For all its lunacy, the belligerent North Korean regime should be taken seriously. It has a huge standing army, it operates concentration camps and routinely threatens neighbours in range of its missiles.
Perhaps most worryingly, it is steered by a frustrated new leader with access to nuclear weapons who wants to be seen as a worthy successor to Kim Jong Il.