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Is North Korea printing counterfeit "supernote" dollars again?

13 Dec 2017 | By Anupama Vijayakumar
Is North Korea flooding markets with counterfeit "supernotes"?

In the past, North Korea has been known to print counterfeit high-value US dollar notes, known as "supernotes," for circulation in various countries.

In a new development, a counterfeit $100 bill has been discovered in South Korea.

This has prompted South Korean bank officials to speculate that sanctions-hit Pyongyang might be printing supernotes again.

What does this mean? Read on to find out.

In context: Is North Korea flooding markets with counterfeit "supernotes"?

13 Dec 2017Is North Korea printing counterfeit "supernote" dollars again?

What?What is a 'supernote?'

Supernote refers to a high-quality counterfeit note resembling the $100 bill.

According to the testimonies of people who defected from North Korea, Pyongyang has a counterfeit-note printing facility in Pyongsong. It is run by the Worker's Party's secret wing, Room 39.

Irrespective of whether these testimonies are true, various international agencies have confirmed that North Korea has circulated these fake notes in multiple countries.

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South Korean officials discover an almost perfect super note!

DetailsSouth Korean officials discover an almost perfect super note!

A team at the KEB Hana Bank confirmed that the 100-dollar bill they found "was almost impossible to distinguish from real banknotes."

No-smudge inks and dented printing techniques, normally used for real notes, have been applied.

"It was the first of a new kind of supernote ever found in the world," states Yi Ho-Joong, head of KEB Hana Bank's anti-counterfeit center.

Did multiple sanctions prompt North Korea to print counterfeit currency?

South Korean media reports suggest that Pyongyang may have resumed printing fake notes to circumvent crippling economic sanctions that the UN and countries, including the US and China, have imposed on it. These sanctions are aimed at discouraging it from continuing its nuclear missile program.

Mere speculation?No solid evidence linking notes to North Korea?

Yi believes that the note could have definitely come from a state-run facility.

"You need facilities worth some USD 100 million to produce counterfeit bills of this quality and no crime rings would invest that much to make fake dollars," he adds.

However, Yi also states that there is no solid evidence linking the newly discovered counterfeit notes to North Korea.