North Korea stepping up security after 'first' bank robbery

By Elizabeth Shim  |  April 29, 2016 at 10:53 PM
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SEOUL, April 29 (UPI) -- North Korea is investigating its "first" bank robbery after a break-in at a branch of the country's central bank.

A source in North Hamgyong Province who spoke to Radio Free Asia on the condition of anonymity said the robbery occurred April 4, in the Shinam district of Chongjin, a city near the China border.

"Because this is the first time the bank has been robbed since the founding of the country, many people are fixated on the incident," the source said, according to Yonhap.

The source said the bank is located near the Dorip Theater and the Shinam branch typically retains night guards on duty.

But at the time of the incident the guards were reportedly not at their stations.

The bank robbers smashed the entrance and made away with the cash, the source said.

They took off with a total of 70 million North Korean won, a currency for which there is no official exchange rate.

Authorities are investigating into whether the robbers had an accomplice on the inside, which is a likely possibility, the source said.

The incident has led to increased surveillance at other bank branches, another source told RFA.

The source also said branches were carrying more cash in preparation for the state's Seventh Party Congress on May 6.

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