This photo shows a clothing distribution centre, not wardrobe of South Korea's former first lady

·2-min read

A photo of clothes-filled racks stacked three levels high has been shared repeatedly in Korean-language social media posts that claim it shows the wardrobe of the country's former first lady. However, the claim is false. The image shows a distribution centre run by an American company that operates an online marketplace for second-hand clothes. According to the firm, the picture was taken at their centre in the US state of Pennsylvania.

"We should cut off Jung-sook's head... is she possessed by a demon that desired clothes?" reads the Korean-language caption of an image shared on Facebook here on March 28, 2022.

"Jung-sook" refers to South Korea's former first lady Kim Jung-sook -- the wife of former president Moon Jae-in.

The Korean-language text below the image reads: "Luxury clothing wardrobe purchased by korea (sic) first lady. Is this an attempt at a world record?"

Screenshot of the misleading claim shared on Facebook, captured June 22, 2022

It circulated online after social media users in South Korea accused Kim of purchasing clothing and accessories using public funds.

According to local news reports here and here, photographs of Kim in an array of outfits at public events were widely shared on social media alongside the allegations, prompting South Korea's presidential office to issue a denial.

The picture of the racks of clothes and the claim they belonged to Kim was also shared on Facebook here, here, here and here.

However, the claim is false.

Clothing distribution centre

A Google reverse image search found the photo was used in a Forbes report published on March 26 about the online clothing consignment store ThredUp.

The caption of the photo, credited to Gani Pinero Photography, reads: "The twelve-year-old company, which processes millions of pieces of used clothing every year, lost $48 million on $186 million in revenue in 2020."

AFP found the same photo on ThredUp's official website here, labelled under the category "Distribution Center Media Assets".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo shared alongside the false claim on Facebook (left) and the photo on the ThredUp website (right):

A ThredUp representative told AFP: "That is a ThredUp image. It was taken at our distribution center located in Mechanicsburg PA."

The distribution centre in Mechanicsburg is one of six locations run by ThredUp, according to its website.

The same photo was published in multiple news reports about ThredUp's business, including here, here and here.

A video posted on YouTube here by Bloomberg Technology also features a ThredUp clip, at the one-minute eight-second mark, showing a distribution centre similar to that featured in the image misleadingly shared on Facebook.

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