Asiana Flight 214 Hoax

July 13, 2013: Asiana Airlines flight 214 crashed on final approach into San Francisco airport. Casualties were 3 fatalities and 181 injuries, 12 serious. The primary cause of the crash was not immediately obvious, although it was known that the aircraft was too low on final approach and flew into the runway. The Boeing 777-200 has a good safety record and there was no obvious evidence of aircraft problems.

KTVU Channel 2 (Oakland, CA) received details of the names of the pilots of flight 214. Four names were received by KTVU by email from an "expert source" ( known to them. The four names were rushed into the noon news program, apparently without complete checking. They had been put up on the Internet a couple of days earlier. (

It seems the station began getting feedback on the names before the news program ended. On first glance, the names looked like what might be expected, but nobody ever read them aloud before the broadcast. The four names looked like Korean or Chinese, which is why this affair was offensive to Korean and Chinese folks. Whether or not one was Korean or Chinese, the names constituted a transparently obvious hoax. See for yourself; here are the names as reported by KTVU:

Read them aloud, carefully sounding them out. It should take less than 15 seconds to see the hoax. The news presenter was reading the names from a teleprompter, had never seen them before and knew nothing of what was happening. Also - a Korean friend notes that the Korean language (like Japanese) does not contain the "L" sound; the "Lo" and "Lee" names would not exist in Korean.

KTVU ran into the extremely rare double failure: they had been given phoney names AND someone at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed the names by phone upon KTVU inquiry.

The hoax produced gross embarrassment for KTVU. The ultimate results were as follows.

If the motive for the hoax was to embarrass KTVU's news department, then it succeeded. No news organization wants to be hit with something like that. is a service of the San Francisco Chronicle.