The DailyNK Exclusive Verification of the North Korean “Super Note”

Daily NK
Shin Ju Hyun

Korea Exchange Bank double Assurance

For the verification of the North Korean-made counterfeit dollars, the so-called “Super Note,” The DailyNK bought these counterfeit dollars and requested examination of them at the Korea Exchange Bank (KEB).

The above photos are of the “Super Note,” which the The DailyNK bought in Dandong, China. They were taken to the KEB on January 5th at 3 pm for examination and identified it as a “Super Note made in 2003.”

The following is the process of how The DailyNK obtained the counterfeit bills made in North Korea and requested examination of it at the KEB.

The DailyNK correspondent in Dandong, China, on January 2nd, was introduced to a businessman who does trade business between North Korea and China through an acquaintance. The DailyNK asked the businessman, Mr. Lee, working for K Trade Company to buy him some counterfeit dollar bills recently made in North Korea.

Mr. Lee smiled and said, “That is not a problem.” He said half a day would be enough for him to buy some counterfeit bills. The correspondent set an appointment with Mr. Lee for the next day.

The next day, the DailyNk was able to obtain the “goods.” From a wad of bills, he pulled out a $100 bill. It cost him $80. He said, “If you buy directly from a North Korean tradesman, it first costs $80 then drops down to $70 on the second call.”

“This is a dollar bill I got directly from a North Korean tradesman, and it is in good condition,” said Mr. Lee. “I was asked to do a favor to sell the dollar bills at $70 each.” According to Mr. Lee, if you meet the same North Korean tradesmen more than twice, they all ask you to do them the favor of selling counterfeit dollars.

Mr. Lee said in the areas where North Korean trade companies are located, such as Dandong, Changbai, and Tumen, daily counterfeit dollar exchanges are made. In Dandong, there is the Sinheung Trade Company run by North Korea’s National Security Agency and the ‘** base of 3000 Bureau (General Federation of Rear Services) run by the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces.

Mr. Shim, who accompanied the meeting added, “Besides counterfeit dollar exchanges, it is a well known fact that fake (Chinese) Yuan bills are circulated as well.”

North Korean Tradesmen, First Deals for Counterfeit Dollars, Second for Drugs

“The Chinese government seems to know about this. If the counterfeit money becomes a problem between North Korea and the US, then China will also decide to take a hard-line policy against the North Korean counterfeit Yuan,” said Shim. “After deals for the counterfeit money are made, then comes deals for drugs. Drug deals are made much more carefully.”

The correspondent mailed the “Super Note” to The DailyNK headquarters in Seoul on January 4th. The DailyNK reporters in Seoul visited Korea Exchange Bank on January 5th for examination.

On the afternoon of January 5th, Suh Taek Seok at the financial office sales department at the KEB headquarters said, “It is certain that the bill is a sophisticated Super Note.”

“Some Super Notes made in 2001 are often circulated, but 2003 bills are very rarely found in South Korea,” he added.

After the close examination, “Although at the basic level, the quality of paper and print technique is very complicated, this Super Note bill could be considered one of the most sophisticated ones to be found,” explained Suh.

“The Super Note made in 2003 were circulated only from October 2005, thus some of the banks out there with detection machines still could fail to verify them.”

“Counterfeit Money from the Early 80s”

Suh said, “Without knowing where the Super Note bills came from, it is difficult to predict in which country the bills were produced. However, if it is true that if the bills were produced in North Korea, the problem could become quite a sensitive matter.”

“Apart from the quality of the paper, for the $100 bill, where it says ‘UNITED STATES’ on the left side of the Franklin portrait, there are white lines on the letter “N” and the picture of the grapes under the eagles is not so clearly printed. There are many more differences between real and fake bills.”

It seems the way the counterfeit bills are circulated also varies. Kim Chan Goo, researcher at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of Kyungnam University who was devoted to relations with North Korea for a decade since 1989 testified, “Eleven years ago when I visited Pyongyang, the guide asked me if I would like to $100 bill for 30 dollars. I bought it as a souvenir, and asked for examination at the KEB when I came back to South Korea. It was verified that it was a counterfeit.”

Kim still kept the bill as a souvenir. “There were many cases of South Korean trade/businessmen who were asked to buy and sell as a broker between the consumers and the North Korean tradesmen in Dandung. Looking back, it can be deduced that North Korea started counterfeiting dollars in the early 80s.”


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