- North Korea appears to have doctored photos from its latest missile launch.
- The launch demonstrated North Korea’s most capable-ever missile, but they’re known to exaggerate.
- Always take North Korean media with a grain of salt.
North Korea is no stranger to stretching the truth in its official media releases, but analysts with keen eyes have picked up on what looks like their latest act of fakery.
Marco Langbroek, an archaeologist by trade and a space expert who tracks North Korea’s missile program, picked up on an issue with pictures of the country’s Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile launching on November 29.
Essentially, North Korea’s claims about the source of their images don’t match with the stars visible in the pictures. Langbroek suggested the images may have been composites, because they picture star constellations that should not appear next to each other.
More evidence of tampered #Hwasong15 imagery: two images, mirrors of each other (look at exhaust plume, lack of number on missile body 2nd image) so opposite viewpoints. Yet starfield in background both south-southeast, Orion and Canis major (but with Sirius missing!)@planet4589 pic.twitter.com/ZqfygbOwFa
— Dr Marco Langbroek (@Marco_Langbroek) December 5, 2017
“You should see constellations that are opposites in the sky. That is not the case,” Langbroek told CNN.
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, pointed out to CNN that the stars in the photo looked too clear for a picture capturing a missile’s rapid ascent.
“They looked so crisp, that just didn’t seem right to me,” McDowell said.
Additionally, Trey Menefee, a photographer and open-source imagery analyst, found irregularities in the images that indicate doctoring.
BUT, BUT…. this is weird. Those foreground headlights are shooting *through* a background KJU. Which does suggest a composite (HDR) image. Though closer inspection may reveal it’s less consistent than it looks to my eyes right now pic.twitter.com/csVkrjWePA
— Trey Menefee (@Comparativist) November 30, 2017
North Korea’s latest image drop also took longer than usual.
It’s unclear if the changes in photography reflect any substantive changes, like making the rocket appear bigger and more capable than it really is.
However, the doctored photos again reinforce the need to take all media from North Korea with a grain of salt.
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