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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Bill Gates hoax hits Korean market
There's nothing like the internet for making people look foolish.

The latest outbreak of red faces is in Seoul, where Korean journalists and investors have been caught out by one of the oldest online hoaxes around.

On a slack Friday afternoon's trading, the Korean stock market dropped by 1.5% - a value loss of more than $3bn - after local TV reported that Microsoft chairman Bill Gates had been assassinated.

Mr Gates, who personifies many of the hopes of the global technology industry, was reportedly shot by a lone gunman at a charity event in Los Angeles - "facts" eagerly retailed by three Korean channels, MBC, YTN and SBS.

In fact, the story was a hoax, lifted from a - admittedly, highly accurate - spoof of the CNN website.

Wishful thinking?

The hoax CNN story, concocted by online gaming website CG-Rom, may have been convincing, but it is also part of one of the internet's best-known japes.

Spoof Bill Gates website
There's a lot of it about
Indeed, there is a wealth of spoof material around concerning Mr Gates' demise.

For many computer geeks, the idea of the boss of hated Microsoft coming a cropper is irresistible.

On one "tribute" site, he appears to have been shot on 2 December, 1999, an event marked by remembrance message boards, conspiracy theorists' forums and even a movie.

The story still retains its power to convince, however - and not just in Korea.

Chinese media fell for it a week ago, after the story was picked up by English-language paper China Daily.

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