Thursday, March 31, 2011

Korean Moon Landings Faked, Claims Fringe Group

In early November 1972 Korea ground to a halt as South Korean astronauts, dubbed 'Seoulnauts', stepped out of their capsule and took their first steps on the lunar surface. It was a moment of deep national pride for all pure-blooded Koreans, and a welcome distraction from the declaration of martial law which had led to the turbulent founding of the Fourth Republic days earlier. Now a Naver-based group has explosively claimed that the Korean moon landings were faked.

The leader of the group, 21-year-old Kim – unemployed - lives with his parents in a poor and largely uneducated village on the very edge of Seoul, although many people consider it to actually lie outside the city limits. With only a 10 megabit Internet connection, which Kim himself admits may slow down his research and render it incomplete, he has nevertheless built an outlandish case based on the unproven idea that the entire project was concocted by the Military Government. He claims that not only were there no landings, but no rockets, and incredibly, no real space program, though paradoxically he admits that the astronauts "really existed" - he suggests they were merely fighter pilots who hoped to go into space "one day".

Kim has used his aging PC, slow Internet connection and possibly pirated copy of Photoshop to supposedly measure the height of the Seoulnauts in TV pictures beamed back live from the Moon to an expectant Korean audience using Seongsan's then newly invented zero-gravity video cameras. "The astronauts are too tall", he concludes. He also claims that the South Korean flag, which is clearly seen three times during the broadcast but which then becomes blurred due to the well known phenomenon of lunar dust on the camera lens, was edited in afterwards, despite this being technically impossible on a live broadcast in 1972. Kim has an increasingly implausible answer to this problem "The broadcast was pre-recorded" he states, contrary to the fact that 20 million Koreans watched the broadcast live.

Kim's online group now has almost 1,000 members, and while that is a tiny number compared to the 20 million who actually witnessed the landings live for themselves, educational experts have pointed to it as an indictment of the Korean educational system. "Clearly, we need to ensure that the fact of the Korean Moon Landings are properly taught in schools." said a senior Ministry of Education spokesman.

Meanwhile, 62-year-old Professor Kim scorned the fringe group's claims, stating that moon rocks which were brought back by Korean astronauts and which now are displayed within the Seoul National Museum clearly prove that the landings took place. "If they were faked" asks the Professor obviously, "why do we have these moon rocks in a Korean Museum? Do you think the Americans just gave them to us?"

The Ministry of Public Manipulation and Insecurity is currently investigating the group. A senior source within the Ministry told us that while he wasn't sure if any laws had been broken due to South Korea's extremely liberal rules protecting free speech, the claim was clearly destabilizing Korean society and as such may be considered a threat to public stability, which would be prosecutable under the National Insecurity Law. "There's certainly a possibility of North Korean involvement here." he added.

After South Korea's so-called 'Seoulnauts' first landed in 1972, North Korea claimed to have landed on the moon a year before South Korean astronauts reached the orbiting satellite, but had withheld the news for 'security reasons'. However, South Korean astronauts found no sign of previous Korean visitations during their stay, and extensive and unsuccessful telescopic surveys for carelessly discarded rubbish on the lunar surface beyond the South Korean landing site tend to support the accusation that the North's claims are baseless.

A second landing took place in 1973, and although geomagnetic storms prevented pictures from reaching Earth, the story was extensively reported on by South Korea's press. A proposed third landing in 1974 was abandoned when the Government announced plans to colonize Mars instead.

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