North Korea back in the fake currency game

Counterfeit dollars from the country are seized in China

North Korea back in the fake currency game

(Image: Wikipedia Commons)

Perhaps owing to the dire economic straits North Korea finds itself in, reports from South Korea appear to confirm that the isolated Asian nation is back producing counterfeit US dollars.

Chinese police have arrested a North Korean agent who was attempting to exchange $5m in fake 100 dollar notes for yuan at two banks in the border city of Dandong.

Upon detection and arrest, the man confessed to being a former member of the North Korean government's espionage department.

According to South Korea's JoongAng Daily, the man was tasked with using the deposited money to purchase home appliances and other household goods for shipping across the border and presentation before Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (pictured).

Fake dollar bills have reportedly also been passed to foreign visitors to North Korea.

The news of counterfeit activity suggests North Korea's fake currency operations are back up-and-running, after US security measures hampered its success last decade.

The US authorities reported that fake $100 bills began circulating in the 1970s and by the late '80s it was estimated that at least $45 million worth of bills close-to-indistinguishable from the real thing were in circulation, chiefly through foreign embassies.

There was also an Irish connection in 1998, when former president of the Workers' Party Seán Garland visited Moscow's North Korean embassy and was subsequently arrested in Belfast and questioned in connection with the exchange of millions in fake US currency in Dublin and Birmingham.

Having fled to the Republic, a US application seeking his extradition was refused.