A Japanese TV station on Thursday retracted what it had called an exclusive image of the likely successor to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il after a South Korean man said it was a summer snapshot of himself.
“We have come to believe that there is high probability that the picture is of another person,” TV Asahi said a day after airing the “scoop” picture as the first image of the North Korean leader’s youngest son, Kim Jong-un, 26.
The retraction and apology came after South Korean construction industry worker Bae Seok-bum, 40, told South Korean news agency Yonhap that the picture was a photograph of himself taken last summer, which he had posted online.
The television network explained that one of its reporters had received the digital image from a South Korean official and had shown it to another source, who had said it was “90 percent” likely to be of the younger Kim.
“I’m speechless,” Bae told Yonhap, saying he had posted the photo on a Web site to show others how closely he resembled the elder Kim.
Rival Nippon TV later broadcast an interview with Bae, who said his friends sometimes tease him about looking like the reclusive Pyongyang regime leader.
“When I go out with friends, we take pictures of each other. I have been nicknamed ‘Comrade Chairman’ on such occasions,” Bae said.
“I never thought our joke would develop into such a situation,” he said.
TV Asahi, when it aired the image on Wednesday, digitally cut out the sunglasses Bae wore in the picture and pasted a set of Kim Jong-il’s eyes over them in an attempt to reconstruct the face of the younger Kim.
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