According to experts, North Korea appears to have doctored the images released of their latest missile launch, depicting their most advanced missile platform to date, the Hwasong-15.  Oddly, it wasn’t the missile itself that appears to have been the subject of the image manipulation, but the backdrop.

North Korea has a long history of manipulating photos prior to release; sometimes the intention is to paint the Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in the best possible light, but it has also been used on more than one occasion to support exaggerated claims regarding the nation’s military capabilities or equipment.  Because very little intelligence finds its way out of the reclusive North Korean regime, these images are often the only source of new information regarding the state of North Korea’s ballistic missile programs, and as such, experts tend to pay close attention when new images surface.

A Palaeolithic archaeologist and space enthusiast, Dr. Marco Langbroek, was the first to point out some issues with North Korea’s images, when he noticed the clarity of the stars in the background of the missile launch images.  In order to capture the image of the missile itself with such clarity, the photographer would have had to use a wide open aperture and a fast shutter lens, which likely would not have allowed for a view of any stars in the backdrop at all.  The clear depiction of the stars would require a slow shutter, which would have resulted in a blurry shot of the rapid ascent of the missile.

Langbroak’s assertions were supported by Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who also said of the photos, “They looked so crisp, that just didn’t seem right to me.”