US & World

Rumor control: Did N. Korea's Kim Jong Un feed his uncle to 120 dogs?

Before their split: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, in February 2012. Earlier this month, Jang was executed.
Before their split: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, in February 2012. Earlier this month, Jang was executed.
/Kyodo/Landov

If you've done much Web surfing today you've probably come across a headline such as this one from NBC News:

"Kim Jong Un's executed uncle was eaten alive by 120 hungry dogs: report."

We'll get to the reasons to be suspicious in a bit. First, here's the short history of that tale about the North Korean leader and his uncle, Jang Song Thaek:

Ah, the truth. That brings us to the debunking.

The Washington Post's Max Fisher offers five reasons to have doubts about the story, starting with:

"The source. The story originated in a Hong Kong newspaper called Wen Wei Po, which oddly makes the claim without citing a source. With a couple of high-quality exceptions, Hong Kong media have a reputation for sensationalist and tabloidy stories that do not always turn out to be true. But, even by Hong Kong standards, Wen Wei Po is considered an unusually unreliable outlet."

Wen Wei Po is still the only news outlet with the eaten-by-dogs account of the execution.

We would add three other reasons to be skeptical:

The Daily NK's Green suggests approaching a story such as this by asking a question: "It might be true, but is there any evidence or common sense to suggest that it is?"

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