A media frenzy has consumed South Korea after it was reported that North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un had been killed by a suicide bomber.
The East Asia Tribune reported the rumour, claiming that a report filed by North Korean state media announced the shocking news that “Kim Jong-un, chairman of the Worker’s Party of Korea and supreme leader of the DPRK, was killed in an explosion in Pyongyang”.
There was just one problem – the Tribune is a fake media outlet and the news story was completely false.
The report was quickly dismissed on social media and by officials in both North and South Korea, but that didn’t stop the rumour mill, as hundreds of articles flooded South Korean media, repeating the claims which the Tribune attributed to North Korean channel KCTV.
UPI even adds that the false story caused tremors in South Korea’s foreign exchange market on Friday – the exchange rate for the South Korean Won spiked, then fell against the U.S. dollar temporarily, while defense stocks also rose momentarily.
Things got so out of hand that South Korean government officials were forced to take to the air to tell people the truth and urge investors to guard against unconfirmed rumours.
A South Korean defense ministry official dismissed the assassination rumours, saying:
We know [this story] to be not true. We know its credibility is not high.
The Daily Star reports that another official asked readers to judge the story ‘based on the quotes that the (publication) got’ – sound advice considering the Tribune article quoted a witness describing the supposed killer as ‘exceptionally beautiful’ and ‘had half the men in the crowd watching her’.
I guess this is a lesson, once again, not to believe everything you read on the Internet…