Regular readers of The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, might be forgiven for thinking the newspaper has a correspondent in South Korea. The newspaper, now available in English via its website, offers a page of inter-Korean news complete with photographs of demonstrations happening in Seoul.
But where are they coming from? A little investigating reveals the pictures are mostly cropped versions of photos taken by South Korean news organizations. They aren’t cropped to change the meaning of the image — they’re cropped to remove the logo of the news agency that holds the copyright.
Is the Rodong Sinmun’s website stealing photographs from South Korean news organizations?
Yonhap says it doesn’t have a deal with KCNA or the Rodong Sinmun for them to access Yonhap material. While it’s possible the Rodong Sinmun licensed the image from a Yonhap distributor, the cropping of the image and the Rodong’s similar use of images from other sources makes it likely the newspaper is pulling them off the web.
Take a look at the most recent headline that was accompanied by an image, “With Resolution to Put End to Subsidized Broadcasting,” from February 11. The link points to a page that doesn’t contain a story but has this image:
Now take a look at the same picture, side-by-side with a photograph from South Korea’s Voice of People:
Another recent example was the February 3rd story, “S. Korean Students Demanding Dissolution of Ruling Party,” that links to a cropped Yonhap news photograph.
The crop is a little difficult to see so here’s another example, this time accompanying the story “The South Korean Students Protest Against Ruling Party’s Cyber Attack” on January 28th:
It’s not just Yonhap Photos being used. Here’s a photo carried in the January 16 article “S. Korean Policiemen Clamping Down on Farmers in Struggle against FTA” and an un-cropped version with the “News.is” logo: