Old photo misrepresented as 'South Korean president's commute' in 2022

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

A photo of a long motorcade has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook and Twitter in May 2022 alongside a claim it shows South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol's "commute" in the capital Seoul after he moved both the presidential residence and office out of the Blue House. This is false. The image has circulated since 2013 in local media reports about former president Park Geun-hye's motorcade after her inauguration ceremony. The image was taken in Seoul's Gwanghwamun Square, which is located north of Yoon's private residence and the new South Korean presidential office.

"A scene of Yoon Seok-yeol's commute. What a waste of resources. They are wasting tax, causing inconvenience to the public," reads the Korean-language claim shared on Facebook on May 20, 2022.

The text superimposed on the photo reads: "Fuck. It looks like North Korea."

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on June 6, 2022

Yoon Seok-yeol, who was sworn in as South Korean president on May 10, 2022, has moved both the presidential office and the presidential residence out of the Blue House, and opened the compound to the public, AFP reported.

A day after his inauguration, Yoon made his first commute between his private residence in Seoul's Seocho district and the new presidential office in the Yongsan presidential in Seoul, local media reported.

He will continue to commute daily while the foreign minister's official residence is converted into the new presidential residence.

The photo has been shared more than 1,500 times after it circulated alongside a similar claim on Facebook here and here, as well as on Twitter here and here

Comments on the posts suggested that some social media users were misled.

One user said: "Why doesn't he invest that money into improving public transport? Didn’t he say he wants to communicate with ordinary people? If he really wants to do that, he should take public transport instead of doing that."

Another user wrote: "What a huge burden to Seoul traffic."

However, the claim is false.

A reverse image search on Google found the photo was previously published in this report by South Korean newspaper Edaily on February 25, 2013, titled: "[Photo] President Park's car procession passing by Gwanghwamun."

"President Park Geun-hye's motorcade is heading to the Blue House after attending the celebration at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul after the inauguration ceremony of the 18th president on the afternoon of the 25th," the photo's caption reads. 

Park was sworn in on February 25, 2013, and removed from office on March 10, 2017, following a corruption scandal.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the picture shared in the misleading post (left) and Edaily's 2013 photo (right):

Screenshot comparison between the picture shared in the misleading post (left) and Edaily's 2013 photo (right)

The same photo was also published in reports about Park's motorcade on the day of her inauguration by local media outlets Nocut News here and News 1 here.

AFP geolocated the road to Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul.

Gwanghwamun Square is situated north of Yoon's residence and the presidential office. 

Below is a screenshot of Naver Map that shows the most direct route between Yoon's private residence in Seoul's Seocho district (circled in green) and the new presidential office in the city's Yongsan district (circled in red).

Gwanghwamun Square (circled in orange) is located north of both locations:

Screenshot of Naver Map