North Korea did not criticise ex-South Korean leader for 'abandoning' dogs gifted by Kim Jong Un

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Social media users have shared altered screenshots of a North Korean state media programme alongside a false claim that they show Pyongyang criticising former South Korean president Moon Jae-in for "abandoning" two dogs given to him in 2018 by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The posts surfaced online after Moon announced he would return the dogs to the South Korean government after it failed to agree on who should pay for the canines' care. However, a search found the original North Korean television report was about Kim condemning South Korea for holding joint military drills with the United States.

The screenshots were shared here on Facebook on November 9, 2022.

In the first screenshot, white Korean-language text has been superimposed above the television chyron that refers to Moon Jae-in as a "boiled cow head", a slur based on a term used by a North Korean government agency.

"The boiled cow head dared to abandon the Pungsan dogs given as a gift by our glorious leader!" the text translates as.

Kim Jong Un gifted the two white Pungsan dogs to Moon after their third summit in September 2018.

In the second screenshot, the inserted white text reads, "This son of a bitch, worse than a dog, will certainly pay the price for this contemptuous act against the comrade chairman". Underneath this, black text set against a yellow backdrop reads "Wow, even North Korea has insulted Moon".

The post's caption sarcastically says that Moon should not leave his house out of "concern" for his own safety.

At the bottom of each screenshot, genuine Korean-language television chyrons include a statement from Kim Yo Jong, vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea and Kim Jong Un's sister.

They translate to English as: "Statement from Kim Yo-jong, vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea -- It will be difficult to return to the spring of three years past."

Screengrab of the false post.

The claim surfaced online after Moon's office said the former president would return the dogs -- which were South Korean state property -- to the government, adding the original agreement over the dogs' care had not been implemented due to an objection from the presidential office of his successor Yoon Suk-yeol. AFP reported on the developments here.

Moon's critics accused him of "abandoning" the dogs, saying it was "irresponsible" for him to give up "living creatures" entrusted to his care.

Comments on the posts suggested some social media users believed the screenshots were taken from a genuine North Korean state TV broadcast criticising Moon over his decision about the dogs.

"He deserves the insult. It's not even just the North, but the entire world is insulting Moon. Liar," wrote one user.

"Yes, please make Moon pay in our stead," wrote another.

Posts with a similar claim were also shared on Facebook here, here, here and here.

However, the claim is false. A search for the original programme on North Korea's state-run Korean Central Television (KCTV) shows the original report has been manipulated and misrepresented.

There have been no official reports or announcements from North or South Korea that indicate Pyongyang condemned Moon's decision to return the dogs to the South Korean government.

False captions

Through a keyword search, AFP found the corresponding KCTV broadcast from March 16, 2021 in the archives of KCNA Watch, a website that monitors and archives North Korean media.

The segment corresponding to the screenshot can be seen starting from the video's 14-minute 14-second mark, where the anchor read a statement from Kim Yo Jong criticising South Korea for displaying "abnormal hostility and distrust" by holding joint military drills with the United States.

"I heard the news that South Korean authorities, who had long been suffering from stress in a fix, launched a war game against our Republic on March 8," the newscaster said.

"Everyone knows that it pointed to the hysteria for war drills manifested in the south every March and every August, and served as a meaningful warning that it might become the last chance for repairing the North-South relations."

The drills refer to the nine-day joint exercises between South Korea and the United States from March 8 to 18, 2021, though scaled back from original plans due to Covid-19 and then-ongoing peace efforts with the North.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the images shared on Facebook with the false captions (left) and the original KCTV broadcast as seen in the KCNA Watch archive (right):

Screenshot comparison of the images shared on Facebook with the false captions (left) and the original KCTV broadcast archived by KCNA Watch (right)

North Korea condemned the drills in a statement attributed to Kim Yo Jong. It was released in English and Korean by state-run news agencies.

The segment did not show the newscaster making comments that correspond to the false captions, or the dogs given to Moon by Kim Jong Un.