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Real or hoax? Chinese father allegedly trapped in South Korea after child draws on passport


Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, June 2, 2014, 4:37 PM - It's a viral phenomenon that has been picked up by multiple news outlets, but it could be nothing more than an urban myth.

Here's how the story goes:

A family trip to South Korea allegedly turned sour when the four year-old son decided to turn his dad's passport into a work of art. 

The dad, allegedly trapped in South Korea due to the "decorated" documentation, has been told he and his family probably won't be able to return home to China for some time.

The image was originally posted to the popular social networking site Weibo by the dad, known as Chen, along with a plea for help. 


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Multiple websites have set out to debunk the story, including kotaku.com, which gives an in-depth analysis as to why the image has to be fake.

Key arguments include:

  • The "ink" appears to be consistent throughout, giving the impression it was added to the passport digitally
  • The pages of Chinese passports are covered in a thin gloss, so if a pen or marker was taken to them the lines would be smeared in places
  • One eagle-eyed blogger points out that part of the image appears to slide off the passport and onto the surface beneath it:

This isn't the first time a defaced passport has made the rounds on social media.

Kotaku points out that there was a similar story out of China in January.

While the doodles look a bit more authentic in the January version, it might be a hoax as well. According to Kotaku, the January image was often accompanied with a reminder to keep passports ready for travel.

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