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Russia’s ‘Sunday News’ with Dmitry Kiselev Used Photoshop to Alter Kim Jong Un’s Smile in Meeting with Lavrov

Kiselev in his Sunday show standing in front of an image with Kim Jong Un and Lavrov
Dmitry Kiselev

Dmitry Kiselev

Host of “Sunday News” on Rossiya-1 TV channel

"No, everything’s correct. Photographs are always taken with HDR, and then you get different facial expressions."

The photograph appears to have been altered because Kim Jong Un did not smile in the original image.
Graphic: Original and Altered Images from Kim Jong Un's Meeting with Sergei Lavrov
Graphic: Original and Altered Images from Kim Jong Un's Meeting with Sergei Lavrov

The weekly Russian program hosted by Dmitry Kiselev altered a photograph of Kim Kong Un in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, apparently using Photoshop.

In the broadcast, the TV host featured an altered image of a smiling Kim Jong Un posing for a photograph with his Russian counterpart. The difference between the authentic image and the altered one? A smile the North Korean leader didn’t have, or at least not serious look of the original photo.

The image, used as a backdrop ahead of Kiselev’s feature, credited RIA Novosti as the source. TV Rain reported that the agency image bank has only one copy of the image, in which Kim is not smiling.

The AFP, Reuters and AP image banks, crediting TASS news agency and MID’s press pool, also store only one official copy of the image, without a smile.

Kim Jong Un Meets Sergei Lavrov. TASS image
Kim Jong Un Meets Sergei Lavrov. TASS image

RIA Novosti, alongside with Sputnik News, is a government news agency currently owned by “Russia Today” and managed by Dmitry Kiselev himself. There is no reason to believe it would use any other official government images from the meeting between Lavrov and Kim Jong Un.

An inspection of the original photo shows that it was taken with a Canon EOS-1D and processed through Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Dmitry Kiselev dismissed the widespread media response in a comment to Radio Moscow on June 4. He said that Kim’s smile, appearing only in the image broadcast by his show, was the result of HDR photography that yielded multiple versions of the same photograph. This is false.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also released a video capturing the moment in which Lavrov and Kim Jong Un were posing for the picture. In the video, Kim was not smiling at any time while the photos were taken.

Dmitry Kiselev is often referred to as the “chief Kremlin propagandist.” His weekly 60-minute show “Sunday News” broadcasts to over 100 million Russians and almost entirely focuses on Russia’s foreign policy and propaganda narratives.