The photo (below) taken by the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) was distributed to AP members and customers on July 16 and purports to show floods that hit Pyongyang a day earlier.
On Sunday, one day after the picture originally ran, the AP decided something about the picture didn't quite look right and issued a "kill notice" -- a message telling subscribers that the agency no longer stands by the photo.
The AP, which has a contract with a Tokyo-based company to redistribute KCNA photos, said in an advisory, "Editors and librarians please eliminate from your photo systems and archives the AP photo (from the KCNA) on July 16, 2011. The content of this image has been digitally altered and does not accurately reflect the scene. No other version of the photo is available."
North Korea watchers in Seoul speculate that the KCNA photo, if really altered, may have been aimed at exaggerating the flooding situation in North Korea to induce more international aid.
They said it's not the first time the KCNA has been suspected of altering images. In 2008, it was accused of trying to pass off old photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as fresh and adding Kim to an image of soldiers.