That Chinese Passport Story Sure Looks Like a Hoax

[Update: It's Fake]

If it's happening in Asia, it must be true, right? Like the Chinese kid who scribbled on his dad's passport. Cute, sure, but it sure seems it could be a hoax.

The story floating around says a four-year-old apparently drew all over his dad's passport, making it impossible for the father to board a plane out of South Korea.

Here is said passport:

As someone with numerous children, I can quickly point out that, at least in my experience, four-year-olds don't draw that well.

And look how small this flower is. I have a difficult time believing that a four-year old's motor skills would be up to snuff, unless the child was advanced for his or her age.But there are more alarm bells. For example, if a child so young drew on the passport, there should be smearing, because, as evident in the image below, Chinese passports, like most passports, have a coat of gloss over the page with the photo, name, and passport number. The reason for this gloss, of course, is that this page needs to be slid through scanners, and the thin coat would logically cause smearing if a young child was writing on it, as well as odd ink bleeds.

But maybe you don't hang out with little kids and don't buy these explanations. Or maybe you think four-year-olds draw like this. Well, then, as pointed out earlier today on NeoGAF and 2channel, this looks like a Photoshop—or better yet, like it was done in MS Paint."Fake," writes GAF member Bloodforge. "Notice on the right side the pen marking goes off the passport and floats in the air."

Closer examination of the markings reveals that the "ink" remains constant in thickness. If you've ever dealt with MS Paint, these lines should be familiar.

Also, the perspective of the scribbles is entirely flat—there isn't depth to them, and they are unaffected by both the lighting and the orientation of the paper. And don't you think it's odd is that the the passport's key points of identification have been either doodled over or crossed out?

In the unrelated photo below, many of the key i.d. points on this man's passport are blurred out to protect his identity.

On  Wiki , notice how  the same  sections are blurred out.

On Wiki, notice how the same sections are blurred out.

I guess we're to assume that if this is not a hoax, then the kid just accidentally drew over these key identifying elements—or maybe the father defaced his own passport after the kid drew on it so it could be uploaded to the internet? We're getting in super thin territory here.

But perhaps you still want to believe! Okay, I have a story about a Chinese parent who got stuck while traveling because a little kid drew all over the parent's passport. Here's the photo:

Actually, Kotaku's own Gergő Vas just drew these scribbles in MS Paint. Sorry to deceive you!

But, where even did this story originate? In the middle of last month, the above image apparently popped up on China's social networking platform Weibo, and then Chinese websites. From there, it's spread to the Western media, which increasingly seems disinterested in seeing if these stories pass the smell test.

Here's where things get interesting: Back in January in China, there was a story about a five-year-old child who did scribble all over a parent's passport, invalidating it. (The travel in this story also involved South Korea. What a coincidence!) But, instead of a black ink pen, this kid used a crayon—you know, as kids do. Here is what that five-year-old's drawing looked like:

Notice that it looks like an actual child's drawing? And that you can see reflected ink in the crayon? The story was widely reported in the Chinese media (herehere, and here). Hell, this might be a hoax—or rather, propaganda. The articles at that time mentioned how important it was to properly care of one's passport. Whatever it was, this several-month-old doodle certainly looks more realistic than the current scribbles making the rounds online recently.

Update: The Wall Street Journal writes, "Kotaku, a website mainly dedicated to computer games, said some of the intricate shapes in the drawing were unlikely to be possible for a four-year-old.

And the site was right. An official at the Chinese Embassy in Seoul told Korea Real Time the photo was a hoax and the South Korean immigration service hadn't prevented anyone traveling because of child's play on official travel documents."