Reports of 3 Chinese women stuck at South Korea airport after plastic surgery are fake news
Our local mainstream media were also caught out.
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So you’ve probably read about the news that was circulating online that three women from China were supposedly detained at a South Korea airport as they were nearly unrecognisable after undergoing plastic surgery procedures.
Well, guess what? It’s fake.
On Oct. 11, one of the largest broadsheets in South Korea, The Chosun Ilbo reported that South Korean authorities from the Ministry of Justice have called out the media reports as “fake news without any basis in facts”.
China’s state media, Global Times, also noted the clarification by the South Korean authorities.
Reported widely in local mainstream media
The news had been widely reported by many international news media agencies, and was also picked up by Singapore’s mainstream media. The reports all carried a photo of three puffy-faced women whose swollen faces were still swathed in bandages. The trio were seated together with what looked like their passports in their hands.
Here are some of our local news reports:
On Channel News Asia‘s Facebook post as of Oct. 12:
No. of reactions: More than 3,500
No. of shares: 1,030
No. of comments: 267
On AsiaOne‘s Facebook post as of Oct. 12:
No. of reactions: 86
No. of shares: 17
No. of comments: 6
On Stomp‘s Facebook post as of Oct. 12:
No. of reactions: 38
No. of shares: 4
No. of comments: 3
On Channel 8 News & Current Affairs‘ Facebook post as of Oct. 12:
No. of reactions: 590
No. of shares: 130
No. of comments: 63
Source of the fake news
The fake news had gained virality after Chinese TV presenter Jian Huahua shared a photo on China’s largest micro-blogging platform, Weibo.
According to Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily, she also claimed in her post that these women were unable to leave South Korea due to identification issues, and thus had to be detained and questioned by immigration authorities.
She further joked that their mothers wouldn’t recognise them.
The tabloid also reported that Jian said that the photo had been shared with her by a civil aviation authority.
Her post has since been taken down without any reasons given.
South Korean authorities clarify
According to The Chosun Ilbo, the account of the three Chinese women were detained, questioned and prevented from leaving South Korean due to the difference between their looks and their passport photos were untrue.
The article also stated that the fake news was debunked by South Korea’s Ministry of Justice.
As reported by Global Times, South Korean immigration authorities said that detainment of travellers due to the difference between their looks and their passport photos has not happened and had never happened before.
Moreover, the authorities said that they use fingerprint identification technology at their immigration checkpoints, and that they have been implemented this technology since 2012.
Under this system, all visitors’ fingerprints will be captured before entering South Korea, and when they depart South Korea, they will be identified via fingerprint-matching in the system before they can leave the immigration checkpoint.