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[Opinion] North Korea’s Counterfeit Dollars

Posted December. 16, 2005 08:34,   


The scene is a military parade in Moscow’s Red Square when the former Soviet Union was at its height. Missiles, armored vehicles, ski units, and special forces troops are proudly marching past. Then, a group of poorly dressed feeble old men totter after them at the end of the procession. This sight surprises western reporters. How could the Soviet Union showcase such feeble old men as part of their military power?

“How can those silly homeless-looking men be your military pride?” one reporter asked a Soviet official. “You don’t understand,” the official sniffs at the reporter. “They are our economists, the Soviet Union’s secret weapon. Once we dispatch them to the stock exchanges in New York and London, capitalism will be overturned in just a few days.”

This is a joke about economists’ inconsistent forecasts. However, some say this story is telling us the fact that capitalism’s open stock and currency markets are vulnerable.

North Korea’s distribution of counterfeit dollars is causing trouble. According to North Korean defectors, North Korea makes counterfeit dollars for two purposes: to earn foreign currency and to instigate anti-American sentiment. What do they mean by instigating anti-American sentiment? Just like dispatching fake economists to New York, distributing counterfeit dollars on the world market causes disruptions. Consequently, the U.S. will lose its credibility as the world’s dollar producer. There is nothing North Korea can not do under the revolutionary flag that calls for the overthrow of the U.S.

There is growing suspicion that North Korea has produced millions dollars of counterfeit notes over the past 15 years. The U.S. has started to pressure North Korea over this issue in the six-party talks. It is certain that the Americans, whose one-dollar note reads “In God We Trust,” will not step back easily.

Pushed into a corner, North Korea reminds me of those silly old economists marching in Red Square. Like what the Soviet Union did with those feeble men, North Korea is playing a comedic role as well, boasting unproven nuclear weapons as their secret weapons.

Kim Chung-sik, Editorial Writer, skim@donga.com