March 10, 2020 13:11
North Korea's state media have been publishing blatantly photoshopped images of people wearing surgical masks amid efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
On Feb. 12, the official Minju Choson newspaper carried an image of actress Kim Jong-hwa with a surgical mask teaching students drama where masks had been photoshopped on faces.
"Amid widespread fears over the spread of COVID-19, Pyongyang's propaganda workers get creative," the U.S. website NK News said.
Similar images have appeared in other state media, but in fact the North seems to be suffering a shortage of surgical masks and has appealed to South Korea and international charities for help with medical supplies.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reported Monday that Seoul has turned down the request. In a speech on the anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement, President Moon Jae-in offered North Korea help in fighting the outbreak.
The daily claimed that after that the South "through an unofficial channel" told the North it would provide test kits and medical supplies, but the North asked for masks instead, which the South was unable to offer because of a severe shortage here.
Seoul dismissed the report as "unfounded." "Basically, the government needs inter-Korean cooperation in quarantine efforts," Unification spokesman Yeo Sang-gi told reporters. "But let me make it clear once again that as of now, there has been neither a request for support from the North nor any specific program."
In a letter of sympathy to South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suggested cooperation in fighting the virus but made no specific request.
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