The original photo shows South Korea's president holding the South Korean flag

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An image has been shared repeatedly in multiple Facebook posts that purports to show South Korean President Moon Jae-in holding the Japanese national flag and wearing a Japanese anime T-shirt at a public event. The image, however, has been doctored. The original photo, taken during a marathon event in 2015, shows Moon holding the South Korean national flag and wearing a T-shirt with a different design.

The image was shared here on Facebook on August 16, 2021.

The post's Korean-language caption translates to English as: "Wow. Japanese [animation] character T-shirts and Japanese flags???"

Screenshot of the misleading claim on Facebook. Captured August 20, 2021.

The image appears to show former Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon (left), South Korean newspaper Hankook Ilbo's former President Lee Jong-seung (middle) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (right) holding Japanese national flags and wearing Japanese anime T-shirts.

The Korean-language text embedded above the image reads, "Bow-legs' [a slur referring to Moon] history is more ridiculous the deeper you dig into it."

Identical images were also shared on Facebook here, here, here and here alongside a similar claim.

Comments on the posts suggested several users appeared to believe the image was genuine.

"What!!!! Pro-Japanese [expletive]!!!!," wrote one user. "Why were they walking around like that then?~~~Crazy folks," wrote another.

The image, however, has been doctored. 

A keyword search on South Korea's largest search engine Naver found corresponding photos of a marathon event published on Moon's official Naver Blog. 

The post, uploaded on August 15, 2015, includes about a dozen images showing Moon, Park and Lee at the same event, named as the "Namsan Turtle Marathon."

A caption accompanying the photos says the event was held on August 15, 2015 in Seoul's Namsan Baekbeom Square Park.

Further keyword searches found the original photo was published on August 17, 2015.

It was shared on a forum operated by Moon’s supporters on Daum Cafe, a popular social media platform in South Korea.

The post is titled: "2015.08.15 (Chairman Moon Jae-in) Namsan 'Turtle Marathon'".

The original photo can be seen below:

Screenshot of the original photo posted on a Daum Cafe page on August 17, 2015. Captured August 20, 2021.


In the original photo, the trio can be seen holding South Korean flags and wearing T-shirts that read: "451th Hankook Ilbo Turtle Marathon".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the doctored image (L) and the original image posted on Daum Cafe (R):

Screenshot comparison of the doctored image (L) and original image posted on Daum Cafe (R)

Moon's appearance at the event is corroborated by a photo published on August 16, 2015, by event hosts Hankook Ilbo, a South Korean news agency. 

The event was also documented in a YouTube video posted on August 17, 2015, by South Korea's ruling Democratic Party.