Fact Check

Is This an Unaltered Photograph of North Korean Officers with Medals?

"North Korea officers .... could easily be defeated with a magnet."

Published May 16, 2016

Updated Mar 22, 2019
A North Korean missile unit takes part in a military parade to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army in Pyongyang in this picture taken April 25, 2007. North Korea fired several short-range missiles towards the Sea of Japan on Friday morning, Kyodo news agency said, quoting Japanese and U.S. Officials. REUTERS/Korea News Service (NORTH KOREA) JAPAN OUT (Flickr)
Image Via Flickr
A photograph shows a group of North Korean generals wearing medals on their shirtsleeves and pants.

A photograph purportedly showing a group of North Korean generals covered in military medals (including their jacket sleeves and pants) is frequently circulated on humor web sites along with disparaging remarks about the country, including "North Korea officers.... could easily be defeated with a magnet":

While some members of North Korea's military have certainly been awarded a great number of accolades, the above-displayed photograph has been altered. The soldiers in the original image, which has been circulating since at least 2007, do not have medals on their sleeves or their pants:

We found no official photographs of North Korean generals wearing military accolades on their pants. A photograph from 1995, however, shows a group of soldiers covered in a similar number of awards:

These images are frequently circulated along with the insinuation that the pictured soldiers do not deserve the medals they're displaying, because the North Korean military has not seen combat for decades. However (putting aside that military medals are usually made out of gold, silver, or brass, which are non-magnetic materials), military medals are frequently awarded for non-combat accomplishments.


22 March 2019: Our team has changed the headline to better reflect the originally-intended question.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.