An image appearing to show outgoing South Korean President Moon Jae-in -- who pursued a policy of engagement with North Korea during his term -- confronted with a placard that says he "must die" and "screw off to the North" has been repeatedly shared in Korean-language social media posts. But the placard has been digitally doctored: it originally showed a message asking Moon to support local merchants.
The image was shared on Facebook on May 1, 2022 alongside a Korean-language claim that merchants in a market in the South Korean city of Daegu have "turned against" President Moon Jae-in.
The image appears to show a smiling Moon looking at a sign held up by a woman in a market that translates as: "You must die for the country to live. Screw off to the North!"
During his five-year term, the dovish Moon held three summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un -- a policy of engagement that critics said had seen Seoul make too many concessions to its wayward neighbour.
A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, captured on May 3, 2022.
Comments to the posts suggest some users believed the placard in the image was genuine.
One user wrote: "Amazing. These grannies are patriots."
"I completely agree. Moon is the North's spokesman and surrogate," another commenter wrote.
The image, however, has been doctored.
Through a Google reverse image search, AFP was able to trace the image to a photo posted on March 22, 2019 by Hyoja-dong Studio, a photo website operated by the country's Presidential Security Service.
The photo shows a woman holding a sign that translates as: "Only if the market lives can the country live. Please help us!"
The photo’s caption says it was taken during a visit to Chilseong Market, which is in Daegu.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the doctored image shared on Facebook (left) and the original photo published by Hyoja-dong Studio (right).
A screenshot comparison of the doctored image shared on Facebook (left) and the photo published by Hyoja-dong Studio (right).
Moon can also be seen looking at the same sign in a YouTube video posted by the Blue House, South Korea's presidential office, on March 24, 2019. The sign can be seen at the six-minute 28-second mark.
Media reports of Moon's visit to the Daegu market indicate he received a remarkably warm reception in the city, which has traditionally been a conservative stronghold that tends to vote against his party.