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

(AFP-Yonhap)
(AFP-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, according to the ministry.

"We added the section to actively respond to fake news maliciously intended to undermine the government's credibility, while confirming any distortion with regard to inter-Korean relations with accurate facts," the ministry said.

A ministry official earlier told Yonhap News Agency that the new section is designed to "archive" fake news so that people can visit 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 abundant 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 after the Korea Communications Commission, a broadcasting watchdog, determined that they were 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 wobbled local financial markets amid jitters about a possible power vacuum and instability in the nuclear armed country.

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