Quality of fake 'supernotes' found in Seoul fan suspicions that North Korea is forging $100 bills

Quality of fake 'supernotes' found in Seoul fan suspicions that North Korea is forging $  100 billsSuspicions are growing that North Korea has resumed forging $ 100 dollar bills that are so realistic that they are virtually indistinguishable from genuine currency. It took a team of forgery specialists at South Korea's KEB Hana Bank to confirm that a single $ 100 bill found at a branch in Seoul in November was a fake. The discovery has triggered alarm because authorities have no idea how many similar "supernotes" – named because they are so similar to real banknotes – are now in circulation. While previous "supernotes" were dated either 2001 or 2003, the new forgeries are dated 2006 and are even more sophisticated in the ink, the printing processes and the material that they use. The forgeries also change colour when they are viewed from a different angle, just as genuine notes should, while the slightly rough texture of the note has also been accurately copied, a spokesman for Hana Bank told South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper. The quality of the forgeries has immediately led to suspicion falling on North Korea, which has a track record of forging foreign banknotes in order to earn hard currency for the regime. Pyongyang is also in increasingly dire need of funds as international sanctions imposed due to the regime's ongoing development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles begin to bite. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visiting Mount Paektu in Ryanggang Province Credit:  AFP "It seems that whoever printed these supernotes has the facilities and high level of technology matching that of a government", Lee Ho-jung, a bank spokesman said. "They are made with special ink that changes colour depending on the angle, patterned paper and Intaglio printing that gives texture to the surface of a note". Another bank source told The Hankyoreh newspaper, "To print supernote-level forgeries, you need a minting corporation-level production line in place, which costs hundreds of billions of won. "This makes if difficult for ordinary criminal organisations to produce them". Earlier versions of supernotes have been around for at least 15 years, with US government officials estimating in 2006 that as much as $ 250 million worth of fake $ 100 bills could be in circulation worldwide. Case study | Counterfeit cash in the UK In recent years, Pyongyang appears to have scaled back its forging operation, which is reportedly overseen by the shadowy Division 39, although that may have changed given the pressure that the regime is now under. In the past, North Korea was believed to distribute the bills overseas through criminal groups and by transporting them abroad through the diplomatic pouch to embassies from where they could be slipped into circulation. In December 2011, the Irish High Court dismissed an application from the US to extradite Sean Garland, the alleged chief of staff of the Official Irish Republican Army, in connection with passing fake supernotes. Mr Garland had been observed travelling to Moscow and visiting the North Korean embassy in the company of a number of former KGB officials. Fake notes were later allegedly smuggled into Ireland and the UK and exchanged for pounds or other currencies.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines