The banner reads: "We give our lives for the revolution of the great Kim Jong-il'"

In order to hush rumours about Kim Jong-il's death, the North Korean authorities released photos of the "dear leader" inspecting his troops earlier this week. But a Chinese blogger says that the photos have been digitally manipulated.

The two photos


Photos posted on Xinhuanet.

According to official news agency KCNA, Kim Jong-il was inspecting two army units. He was allegedly "greatly satisfied to see all of the soldiers fully prepared (...) to be capable of beating back any surprise attack of the enemy in time and of firmly defending the socialist motherland".

The South Korean and Western press printed the photos, highlighting that they were impossible to date. A Chinese blogger then found another photo, sent by the North Korean authorities to the Chinese state media Xinhua and posted on their website, in which Kim Jong-il poses at the front of another regiment. The fact that the "Juche" appears in exactly the same position right down to the folds in his trousers, is already rather suspect. But the blogger also noticed that in the second photo, the leader's shadow doesn't fall the same way as those of the soldiers' around him. So it seems that Kim Jong's body has been cut from one photo (probably the first where the shadow is more credible) and pasted into the other with the help of image manipulation software. Unless the sun shines differently on the Korean leader, of course...

The second photo can't be dated, in which case it's possible that it was never taken. That said, the Chinese agency that published it, Xinhua, is itself suspected of manipulating images, like in the case of the Photoshop "beheadings".