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South Korea having problems printing its own currency

Written by: Staff
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SEOUL, Mar 31: While North Korea has been accused of making almost flawless counterfeit U S 100 dollar notes, neighbouring South Korea has been having trouble printing its new and perfectly legal 5,000 won (5.13 dollar) note.

Concerned about counterfeiting, South Korea has been giving its currency a facelift, starting with the 5,000 won note.

The new bills were released in January with much fanfare, but a large chunk have been recalled after the printers botched some of measures aimed at preventing counterfeiting.

Problems included some notes not being printed with holograms, as well as other defects.

The state-run Korea Minting and Security Corp. recalled nearly 17 million of the new notes in February -- its first recall in more than half a century.

In March, the printing service said it had discovered seven more 5,000 won notes with printing errors.

''The reprints have made the Bank of Korea a laughingstock,'' the Korea Herald said in a recent editorial.

Media has said part of the reason for the trouble may be the bank rushed out the notes so that they could be used for the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in late January his year. Children often receive crisp bills as presents for the holiday.

''Critical procedures (in monitoring) were omitted and this led to the circulation of flawed notes,'' the bank said in a recent statement.

There have been reports the new bills have a ''money laundering'' problem -- namely, if you forget to remove a new 5,000 won note from clothing that gets laundered, the ink has a tendency to run and fade.

All this attention on the new South Korean notes comes as U.S.

Treasury officials have been briefing governments in the region over U.S. suspicions North Korea has been producing a counterfeit high-quality 0 bill for years.

U S officials have dubbed the suspected North Korean copy the ''supernote.''

REUTERS

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