- Mark Wilson/Getty Images
- A near-perfect counterfeit US $100 bill, called a ‘supernote,’ was recently discovered in a South Korean bank.
- North Korea used to create millions of dollars in counterfeit US notes.
- There’s no evidence the note came from North Korea, but the popularity of movies depicting North Koreans as counterfeiters may have contributed to the idea.
A high-quality fake $100 note recently discovered in South Korea has stoked concerns of North Korean counterfeiting, Agence France Presse reported Tuesday.
Forgery experts at KEB Hana Bank said the $100 note, which was found at a Seoul branch in November, was almost identical to real notes.
“It was the first of a new kind of supernote ever found in the world,” Yi Ho-Joong, head of KEB Hana Bank’s anti-counterfeit centre told AFP.
North Korea made near perfect $100 bills – dubbed “supernotes” by US officials – for decades as part of a highly sophisticated counterfeiting program. The US believes that, at times, North Korea had earned up to $25 million per year from counterfeit notes.
“You need facilities worth some $100 million to produce counterfeit bills of this quality and no crime rings would invest that much to make fake dollars,” Yi added.
While no evidence directly links the note to North Korea, AFP reported there are suspicions North Korea has resumed its forgeries.
“There would have always been sufficient disrespect for the US financial system there to create counterfeits, which is the main reason why South Korean banks are suspecting the origin of the notes to be North Korea,” Roald Maliangkay, director of the Korea Institute at Australian National University, told Business Insider.
But there may be a simpler explanation for the extra attention on North Korea: movies.
A number of local films have featured North Koreans as the typical culprit – “much like people with British accents in Hollywood movies” – which could be increasing suspicions of North Korea being the mastermind behind dollar counterfeits.
“This year a Korean movie came out called “Confidential Assignment” which was a big box office hit and deals exactly with this issue of counterfeit notes being produced in North Korea, with a criminal then hoping to sell the master plates to a buyer in South Korea. Popular fiction may well also be driving this notion, Maliangkay said.