Citing South Korean newspaper articles, a story in a security publication noted that a senior North Korean colonel, assigned to a special unit, has defected while in China, and that he allegedly took with him the printing plates for the "Supernote," the most recent version of the North Korean counterfeit USD $100 note. One example of the Supernote, the US Series 2006, was found late last year by a teller at KEB Bank in Seoul, and it took a team of experts to deduce that it was indeed a counterfeit.
This version of the Supernote has not, to date, been seen in global circulation, through massive amounts of the bills are known to exist in cold storage, and have been so stored since they were manufactured by the DPRK, more than a decade ago. There is a report from Singapore, where quantities of the Supernote was offered for sale by criminal elements, at the astounding price of 50 cents on a dollar of face value. This asking price is far in excess of the typical market price counterfeits realize, which is probably a testament to the quality of these latest Supernotes. The current holders of the stored notes are said to be Korea's largest organized crime syndicate, which operates in South Korea, but has ties to the DPRK, as is alleged to have created the printing plates, and transferred them to North Korea.
Are the printing plates in the hands of the Peoples' Republic of China, which reportedly already has a large quantity of the notes on hand? We cannot say, but the mystery surrounding the elusive 2006 Supernote continues to grow.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant