A false report of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s death, originally spread by a satirical website on Thursday, temporary shook South Korea Friday morning.
The rumor impacted South Korea to the point where one of the stocks related to the defense industry skyrocketed by more than 9 percent, and the Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar temporarily.
“Kim Jong Un, the chairman of the Worker’s Party of Korea and supreme leader of the DPRK, was killed in an explosion in Pyongyang which was believed to have been carried out by a female suicide bomber,” wrote the East Asia Tribune on Thursday.
The website claimed that the news was revealed on the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), but no such news was found on any state-run media or Pyongyang’s various propaganda websites.
On Friday morning the South Korean media started spreading the news, with the nation’s biggest web portal showing more than 115 articles with the keywords “Kim Jong Un” and “death” published on Friday.
The media hype continued until around until 11 a.m., when South Korea’s major government offices, such as the Ministry of National Defense (MND), Ministry of Unification (MoU) and Ministry of Strategy and Finance told local media the Tribune story was fake.
“The credibility of the news is very low,” an MND official told reporters, while the MoU official suggested the readers to judge the validity of the news “based on the internet comments that people left on the reliability of the Tribune,” said MoU official, SBS reported.
The story’s quotes are obvious giveaways, in which the KCNA supposedly interviewed bystanders in awe of the assassin’s beauty and suggest that she escaped from a brothel servicing the nation’s elites.
Yet prior to the government’s statements, one defense manufacturer saw its stock price increase dramatically, as shown in the chart below.
This is not the first time that the EAT has published groundless claims related to North Korea. Earlier this month the website claimed that a journalist of theirs was executed by North Korean Agents, which was quickly debunked by other sources.
Other headlines currently on the East Asia Tribune‘s front page include “Singaporean Man Fighting For Life After Being Hit With Designer Handbag,” “China Adopts Controversial ‘Alternate Breathing Days’ to Curb Pollution” and “HK Authorities Crack Down on Illegal ‘Strip Mahjong’ Tournaments.”
Featured image: Rodong Sinmun, Kim Jong Un attends Kim Yang Kon’s funeral
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