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Unification ministry launches 'fake news response' section on official website

All News 09:52 May 20, 2020

By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, May 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification ministry has launched a new section on its website featuring "fake news" as part of efforts to prevent the spread of groundless rumors about North Korea and inter-Korean affairs.

It is the first time that a government agency has launched such a fake news section on its homepage. The move came amid growing worries that the spread of unsubstantiated rumors and speculation about the secretive North could cause confusion and instability in society and financial markets.

Fake News Response, which has been in service since early this month, is designed to provide correct information on fabricated news and the ministry's countermeasures, officials said.

"We launched the new section in a bid to archive fake news," a ministry official told Yonhap News Agency. "We want people to visit the section, and figure out what is fabricated and what is not."

Two items have been uploaded there providing information on YouTube content that turned out to be fabricated.

One is about a YouTuber claiming that facial masks are in abundance in North Korea, while they are running out in the South amid the coronavirus pandemic. The other is about another YouTuber claiming that a factory is churning out 1 million masks every day to provide them to North Korea.

The ministry explained that both of them were ordered to be taken down from online after the Korea Communications Commission, a broadcasting watchdog, determined them as fake news.

Calls are growing louder for tough measures to stem the spread of unsubstantiated news or groundless rumors about North Korea. Such concerns have deepened recently after speculation about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's health and even the possibility of his death turned out to be wrong as he emerged earlier this month after a 20-day absence from public view.

A cascade of rumors sparked by a CNN report on Kim's ill health had wobbled local financial markets amid jitters about a possible power vacuum and instability in the nuclear armed country.

The latest fuss demonstrated how easy unsubstantiated information about the North and its leaders could lead to wild speculation and bring about chaos in the region highly sensitive to what is going on in the secretive North.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) attends a ceremony to mark the completion of a phosphatic fertilizer factory in Sunchon, north of Pyongyang, on May 1, 2020, in this photo released the next day by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency. Kim made his first public appearance after a 20-day absence that sparked rumors about his health. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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