Go to contents

Smuggler’s Tale: The Chinese Connection

Posted January. 27, 2006 03:06,   


Police in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in Jilin Province, China announced in 2001 when smuggling to North Korea was rampant that they confiscated more than 16,000 smuggled cars.

One North Korean smuggler, known as Hwang, said that he was responsible for most of them.

“I used to smuggle opium and drugs produced by North Koreans, but not counterfeit dollars. Smugglers of forged dollars face harsh punishment from the Chinese Black Society, a criminal organization,” he claims.

Smuggling usually happens at night, in the blink of an eye. Rolls of dollars are first screened for authenticity with counterfeit currency detectors made by China, because it is tough to detect forged money with one’s bare eyes.

In 2001, he received 50,000 dollars worth of counterfeit money. He checked with his counterfeit currency detectors, but after taking a closer look at his stash the next day, he saw that many of the bills had the same serial numbers. The con artist was devastated at role reversal, but he could do nothing.

He resold some of the bills to Chinese again, but he couldn’t sell all of them. He consulted with a friend who often traveled to foreign countries. He advised him that it would be easier to sell counterfeit money in the Middle East. So he sold the rest of his forged money, all $30,000 of it, for $9,000.

There are two kinds of counterfeit dollars on the North Korean market: “printed” currency and “electronically copied” currency. A printed counterfeit $100 bill, known as a “supernote” in the western world, is so delicate that it is traded at 30 percent of face value. Electronically copied currency made with color copy machines trades at 10 percent of face value.

“Some Chinese people asked me if I could circulate North Korean money they forged. Do they believe that I would do such a thing, betraying my country?” Anyway, counterfeit dollars come from China. When you pay with large bills in China, they are always under scrutiny. This tells how rampant the counterfeiting is in China, doesn’t it? Forging money is what Chinese do. Will China investigate North Korea’s alleged money counterfeiting, in cooperation with the U.S.? That doesn’t make sense at all,” Hwang ranted.