The North Korean's official Korean Central News Agency released a series of images depicting military exercises that took place on March 25. In the images, hovercrafts appear to be landing on the country's east coast. The pictures would seem to show a well-prepared army preparing for war. It's too bad they are fakes. This shouldn't surprise any of us, this isn't the first time and certainly won't be the last time North Korea produces fake images. The country's obsession with appearing militarily dominant isn't enough to get it to sever economic ties with the U.S. and South Korea.
The Atlantic first uncovered the photoshopped images. The released photos show a number of hovercrafts, but when you remove the photoshopped images you are only left with two or three real vehicles. The North Korean propaganda machine is nothing if not enterprising. This comes after a week of rather embarrassing revelations of additional fraudulent photos. Videos like this one went viral this week, it's a fake but not out of the realm of some actual propaganda videos from North Korea.
The image in question courtesy of The Atlantic:
"The hovercraft depicted inside the boxes in this image released by KCNA appear to be digital clones of each other, most evident in the blue boxes, where the leftmost hovercraft has apparently been copied, pasted and touched up to become a separate hovercraft at right. The leftmost vehicle, circled, does not appear to be a clone of any other craft in this photo, but its soft edges, lack of a visible wake, and color oddities make the image suspect."
The U.S. has decided to respond to North Korea by showing them what actual military readiness looks like. The U.S. and South Koreans have been conducting joint-military trainings this week. As part of that training two nuclear-capable B-2 bombers completed a mission from a U.S. air base to a munitions depot on a South Korean island. The purpose of conducting this mission is to send a very clear message to the North Koreans who claim to preparing for nuclear war.
Tensions began to increase after North Korea conducted a series of nuclear tests. These tests prompted increased UN sanctions. The sanctions — along with international condemnation — has caused the young inexperienced leader of North Korea to issue a slew of provocative statements aimed at keeping both sides on high alert.
Despite North Korea's severing of hotlines with the U.S., Red Cross, and South Korea, main borders remain open for business. The militarized zone between the countries only has one valid form of currency: dollars. The military tensions between North and South Korea are not enough to stop both countries from taking economic advantage of one another. In Kaesong, 123 South Korean factories employ more than 50,000 North Koreans to make goods. Kaesong generates $80 million in wages which are paid directly to the North Korean state. If North Korea prevents South Korea from accessing these factories, it would be a serious loss to one of the only lucrative ventures the country has.
The border between the two countries does over $2 billion in trade every year. Losing out on that kind of money would only increase North Korea’s reliance on other countries like China, something that the country is not eager to do. North Korea may continue to flout its “military supremacy” but in the end, the possible loss of economic opportunities will prove to great a risk for a country ailing economically.