Fake North Korea bills found, Seoul police say

The counterfeit money was found at a thrift store.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  May 3, 2016 at 10:05 PM
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SEOUL, May 3 (UPI) -- South Korean police are investigating a large stack of counterfeit North Korean bills found at a Seoul thrift store.

The massive pile of fake North Korean money weighed about 330 pounds, and was found in a heap of wastepaper in southwestern Seoul, Yonhap reported.

The counterfeit money was printed in 5,000 North Korean won denominations. There is no official exchange rate for the currency.

The store proprietor discovered the bills on Tuesday afternoon after he purchased the recyclable material from a man and a woman, who both appeared to be in their 40s.

The proprietor alerted authorities by late evening.

South Korea's intelligence agency and military are investigating the bills alongside police, local television network KBS reported.

Local authorities are trying to determine whether the two individuals are North Korean defectors.

Tensions with the North have increased since Pyongyang has stepped up provocations and issued propaganda threatening to destroy government institutions in Seoul.

Senior South Korean and U.S. officials have repeatedly stated they would not tolerate North Korea as a nuclear weapons state and have called for denuclearization – and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel told reporters Tuesday the U.S. position on North Korea's weapons program remains unchanged.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., at a forum on the U.S.-Korea alliance, Russel said the United States' top priorities are denuclearization on the Korean peninsula and protecting the United States and allies so as to not weaken the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.

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