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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Dear Leader: 2008 (?)

The Dear Leader: 2008 (?)

We don't do many current-event photos but I thought this one deserved wider exposure. Yesterday, after weeks of rumors that North Korea's "Dear Leader" had been incapacitated by a stroke, the country's official news agency released what it claims are photos of Kim Jong Il at a recent soccer match. (Their "recentness" supposedly attested to by the fallish foliage in the background; this comes two weeks after an earlier batch of photos showing the pudgy dictator amid lush greenery that was obviously out of season.) Of the relatively few news accounts that actually showed any of the photos (I found them here on Breitbart), most used this one, of Kim seated indoors. The one I thought most interesting was the photo above, of the D.L. greeting an assortment of functionaries whose hovering selves levitate shadowlessly over a stone platform. Eerie, huh? View full size.

The Nose Knows

Regardless of authenticity, you would think they would refrain from using an image that makes it look like Dear Leaderhosen is picking the nose of the guy on the far right.

I found the original

Turns out the Dear Leader was actually away on a secret mission when the photo was taken.

It HAD to be said...

"The Dear Leader invites Party cadres to pull his finger." There - that's done with.


This is an obvious paste up, not at all well done.

Body language

I have enjoyed all the comments, and what a lot! but what interests me is the body language of his followers, they're smiling but notice their hands, all clenched, they seem pretty uptight despite the "smiles."

[I'll bet that's not all that's clenched. - Dave]

Couldn't Possibly be Photoshoppéd

We're not allowed to export national security items like Photoshop to the Commies. Must be the Gimp.

It's definitely a fake.

The reason I say it's definitely a fake is noise. If you take the image into Photoshop and examine it you'll see the noise is different on the people compared to the background. The image is a composite of different images and the noise proves it.

[That could be low-light noise. My Nikon does that in the dark parts of a picture. - Dave]

Are we not men?

They sort of look like the Asian version of Devo back when they had those glossy plastic wigs.


If I turned in a composite this inept, my digital photography teacher would have had me redo the assignment.

Love this. Find it difficult to believe that anyone inside the "curtain" would be fooled by it.

The DL Phenomenon

There's an obvious answer to the missing shadows.

The radiant glow that emanates from the Dear Leader's person blots out all shadows. Any nearby solid object is bathed in the light Dear Leader emits. Dear Leader is kind of like a "lightning bug" that way, only he's much larger, and his behind, rather than blinking off and on, shines steadily like an artificial moon -- a blazing beacon of the Juche Idea visible for miles around.

There's a similar answer to the levitation you've pointed out. In the Dear Leader's presence, the laws of gravity are revoked. If the Dear Leader's force field wasn't graciously anchoring his subjects to Planet Earth, they'd fly off into outer space (or South Korea, or China).


That's a water stain in the stairwell behind Kim.

The shadow doesn't extend from his leg, and there is no corresponding shadows behind the others.

You can soak up shadows with clever photography though. You cannot however, avoid shadows made under their shoes. We should be seeing dark spots under the arch of their shoes.

Candidate for the Photoshop Fail blog IMO.


Gosh that's creepy and sad. Thanks for the good belly laughs though..."Peter Pan" and the Olan Mills thing really got me going. Good times.

What the...?

Dear Leader is actually Zelig?

Peter Pan

Simple. They just need Wendy Darling to sew their shadows back on.

Hair Rinse

I haven't seen hair that black since.... Well, I've never seen hair that black.

Not Photoshopped

The lack of shadows in foreground is due to use of a flash. You can see the effects of flash in the dear leader's shadow cast on the low wall behind him. The sense of floating people is mostly because the floor is quite featureless & the flash flattens everything out a bit.

If it were 'shopped, you'd see more artifacts around the other edges of the people.

[That's a stairwell in the back, not a low wall. Fun experiment: Go out on a covered porch and photograph someone with a flash. Can you possibly get the results below? As for artifacts, there are artifacts aplenty. - Dave]

Hair apparent.

Obviously the guy on the far left is the heir designate, as he's wearing the brown-coat-in-waiting. And the guy next to him with the official blue folder must be Poo-Bah, carrying the list of society's offenders who "might well be underground and who never would be missed."

Sorry - but I also disagree -

At first glance the picture looks very fake, but look closer and you can see shadows cast onto the white concrete (or marble, or whatever).

Look around KJ's knee area and follow it across the staircase for example.

Also look at the first "fold" from the floor in the pant-legs of the two guys in the middle and you spot a slight casting to the floor that seems perspective appropriate.

KJ's finger is also casting a shadow on the dude farthest to the right of him on his chest - again, seems correct perspective from the flash - particularly if you look at the shoes and shiny faces for hints of the flash source.

Of course - it could be fake - but it have to be a better fake then you guys are claiming. Also - could be an old picture - or maybe just the "Fall" background was 'shopped in.

He is very much like Elvis

We call him IL-VIS... He has that Elvis look and nobody is really sure if he is dead or alive!

Long Live IL-Vis!

Futuristic Fright

Yes, this photo is poorly 'shopped. But there are some very talented tricksters in this world whose computers are amazing marionettes for their agendas. It scares me to think that I can't even trust my eyes for the the truth in this world. Give me a 50-year-old scratchy portrait of history any day. I can have a little faith in its veracity. What's next: Convincing photos of Americans openly torturing our "political enemies?" Or "true" pictures of innocent people committing crimes--to cover for the real thieves. It frightens me to think we cannot trust photo evidence. We've believed in it for many years. I hope I never see a convincing shot of someone I care about kicking my dog! (Or worse!)

Olan Mills

This is obviously an Olan Mills special, using one of those pull-down backgrounds they used to use in our school portraits. Maybe the Dear Leader's minions got their inspiration from this site.

Second Life

The DPRK has mastered the power of virtual environments. Tremble!

Paging Howard McNear

I saw a discussion/analysis of this photo and others on Japanese television the other day. There is speculation here that he had a stroke affecting the left side of his body, as in all the pictures his left hand is somehow being supported. In a seated photo, it is resting on his leg. In this photo, his thumb is hooked into his pocket.

When I saw it I couldn't help but recall the great character actor Howard McNear continuing to work on The Andy Griffith Show following his stroke.

Can't you see?

This is obviously a contest to see whose hair is most like the Fearless Leader's! He will step into the Fearless Leader's shoes at the appropriate moment.

It's NOT Photoshopped

This is today's post-lunch meeting of Qualcomm's brightest technical experts at the rear employee area at the Sorrento Mesa office in San Diego. certainly could be.


Glad to see you catch on to this one, Dave! I had a brief writeup on it yesterday, and had a photoshopper tell me the same thing about the fill flash. Personally, I think the fact that this is an absolute dictatorship without an immediate successor tips the balance significantly towards this being a FAKE.

But hey, I've been wrong before. It's not like being wrong again is gonna be that much of a stain on my mostly spotted record.

Anyway, whenever my server gets back off the ground from whatever's attacking it this time (was China last time), the permalink I had for this story last night is over here. I sure hope you found it either directly or indirectly through my site, and that you'd consider adding me to your personal RSS reader if you found it even marginally thought provoking. (I aim low.)

Respectfully yours,
Brian L.
Snapped Shot

PS: I *love* your site, and read it each and every day!

[Well thanks. I saw this photo in a gallery on Breitbart. I can't get your site to load. - Dave]


Obviously not a "shadow government."

Even without shadows

Even without shadows, everyone does seem to be floating a bit. The sad thing is, this "photo" probably works behind the DMZ.

Ah, details

I just noticed the tags you put on this one. Well played!

This site would be great enough with just the pictures and oft-interesting amateur sleuth comments, but the literate and often hilarious captions are several inches of frosting on this cake.

This photo is real

and they're all vampires.

Funny, but...

This has to be photoshopped. It is sort of funny, but in all seriousness, whoever was supposed to make it look real is probably in big trouble right now.

Sorry... I don't agree...

DL himself is casting a flash-shadow on the wall in the distance. I doubt that they'd be sure to put that shadow in, and then forget to put in the rest. Different materials show shadows differently, but retouchers tend to ignore this.

[That's a stairwell whose outer wall comes up only as high as the rest of the patio. If he's casting a shadow down into it, why don't we see any shadow on the paving between him and the stairs? - Dave]

You can pick your friends...

...and you can pick your nose, unless Kim Jong Il does it for you!

Like a bad B movie

This photo reminds me of a highly retouched still from a poorly done 1960s sci-fi movie. It would be laughable if these characters were not such unstable crazies.

Please Don't

Please don't turn this site into something it isn't. I come here to get away from the Media and all the Bad News in this world and now here it is and I asked myself "Why did they do this?"

[What about all the people who come here to get away from tedious whining? I posted this for the reason I gave in the caption. - Dave]

No Shadows

There's never a shadow in his pictures because the sun never sets on the Kim Jong Il regime. Even light is a slave to his whims.

Seriously though, there is indeed an unrealistic feeling about the lighting in this picture that can't be solely explained by the flash fill.

[If the light was bright enough to create those highlights on the shoes, there should be shadows. This has "Ineptly Photoshopped" written all over it. - Dave]


There are no clearly visible shadows, but it looks like it was shot with a flash.

[What's interesting is that the chin of the man on the far left is casting a very distinct shadow on the man next to him. - Dave]

I think it's faked too.

The lighting does look pretty flat and not at all how I think it should look for being a daytime, outdoor shot.

The Matrix is real!

levitating dudes in sunglasses?

Levitation 101

I took that class in college. I never got it to work quite this well.....

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