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Pyongyang man arrested for using counterfeit dollars

A Pyongyang resident in his 20s has been arrested by North Korean police for using counterfeit money, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on Mar. 27 that the young man, a resident of Nangnang district, was arrested in mid-March after buying items with dollars that turned out to be counterfeit. He had been reported to police by a merchant at a market in Ryokpo district who found his behavior suspicious.

“Since the local currency is used in the market, it’s typical to exchange your dollars at the money changer before using them. But this young man raised suspicion because he bought items in the market with dollars and then asked for change in local currency,” the source said.

The merchants became even more suspicious when the young man bought items from several vendors with not one but several USD 100 bills, a large denomination in North Korea.

Finally, one of the merchants called the police officer in charge of the market and reported the young man’s suspicious behavior. The officer immediately went to the market and arrested the young man as he attempted to flee. He was handcuffed and taken to a police station.

The police accused the young man of using counterfeit dollars and focused their interrogation on how he came into possession of them. The young man initially refused to answer, but eventually talked after the policemen took turns beating him, the source said.

“Officials with Ministry of State Security badges came out of a ministry safe house in Potonggang district and exchanged ten fake USD 100 bills for one real USD 100 bill. Then they told me to keep quiet about the exchange and sent me on my way. I borrowed the real USD 100 bill from my family,” the young man told the police.

Ryokpo district’s police station, which handled the case, asked the district’s state security bureau to help with the investigation. But the state security department said it was inconceivable that the ministry would issue fake bills, and made the unlikely claim that fraudsters often try to get off the hook by shifting the blame to government agencies.

“This young man is still under police investigation, and the source of the counterfeit dollars has yet to be determined. He’s likely to be severely punished because he not only circulated counterfeit dollars, but also involved the Ministry of State Security,” the source said.

This was just one recent example of fake dollars circulating in Pyongyang, which has led to complaints from a growing number of merchants. As a result, police are stepping up efforts to identify the source of the fake dollars and apprehend the culprits.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

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Read in Korean

April 03, 2024 at 07:00AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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