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Human Error Cited in Banknote Defects

Posted March. 25, 2006 03:10,   


Multiple human errors caused hologram problems on recently circulated new 5,000 won notes, according to a Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE) statement yesterday.

The findings came after an investigation into production errors in 5,000 won notes printed by the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation (KOMSCO).

According to investigation results, new 5,000 won banknotes underwent a four-stage testing process, including hologram testing, a stage of automatic tests, a second stage of automatic tests, and a final check using the naked eye.

Notes without holograms, which were found on February 13 and 15, managed to pass all four tests, including the final naked eye examination.

According to regulations, uncut sheets of paper money that fail any of the first three tests must be checked personally by a trained technician.

But a testing department general manager at the Gyeongsan Mint told his workers not to separately look for holograms when they conducted unaided eye tests on uncut sheets of notes that had no problem with the hologram examination portion of testing last year. He did so in order to reduce the delivery time of the new notes, which was in extremely high demand at the time.

Immediately after those instructions, a worker wrongly classified one sheet of notes without holograms as a normal sheet, workers for naked eye testing didn’t check the hologram under the head’s direction, which then allowed the problematic notes to be circulated.

In addition, at the end of last year, a worker took an uncut sheet of paper money with holograms wrongly attached out of an automatic tester and put it into a depository that contained sheets of flawless notes.

KOMSCO discovered seven additional faulty notes in the process of double checking 15.17 million 5,000 notes that were delivered to the Bank of Korea (BOK) after collecting them.

Kim Seung-gyu, an inspector director of MOFE, said, “A maximum of approximately 39 faulty notes might have been circulated,” and added, “Though, there is no problem because they are faulty bills, not fake notes.”

MOFE decided to demand KOMSCO to censure 30 employees responsible for the circulation of flawed notes such as the Gyeongsan Mint chief.