Likely North Korean “Supernote” is Found in South Korea

The North Korean are continuing to print counterfeit US currency as one of their major criminal enterprises:

A high-quality fake $100 note recently discovered in South Korea has stoked concerns of North Korean counterfeiting, Agence France Presse reported Tuesday.

Forgery experts at KEB Hana Bank said the $100 note, which was found at a Seoul branch in November, was almost identical to real notes.

“It was the first of a new kind of supernote ever found in the world,” Yi Ho-Joong, head of KEB Hana Bank’s anti-counterfeit centre told AFP.

North Korea made near perfect $100 bills — dubbed “supernotes” by US officials — for decades as part of a highly sophisticated counterfeiting program. The US believes that, at times, North Korea had earned up to $25 million per year from counterfeit notes.

“You need facilities worth some $100 million to produce counterfeit bills of this quality and no crime rings would invest that much to make fake dollars,” Yi added.

While no evidence directly links the note to North Korea, AFP reported there are suspicions North Korea has resumed its forgeries.

“There would have always been sufficient disrespect for the US financial system there to create counterfeits, which is the main reason why South Korean banks are suspecting the origin of the notes to be North Korea,” Roald Maliangkay, director of the Korea Institute at Australian National University, told Business Insider.  [Business Insider]

You can read more at the link, but last year a North Korean agent was arrested in China trying to pass off $5 million in counterfeit US currency.  It appears that the North Koreans have expanded their operations of passing off counterfeit currency into South Korea.

Why 85% of North Korean Defectors Are Women

The male North Korean soldier that defected last month across the DMZ is actually a very small minority of the demographic that composes North Korean defectors.  The vast majority of the defectors are actually women:

North Korean women dressed in traditional dresses, leave the restaurant they work at and head to the North Korean embassy in Beijing, on December 17, 2006. Women participate in North Korea’s unofficial economy in at higher rates and the country’s gray markets have continued to proliferate. UPI Photo/Stephen Shaver

The backward North Korean economy produces very little that the world wants.  But Big Brother China, however, is hungry for the two things Pyongyang does have in relative abundance: coal and women. The coal keeps the fires burning in energy-poor China. The women help to meet the shortage of brides in China’s male-dominated society.

China’s one-child policy has devastated the female population. Over the past three-and-a-half decades that the policy has been in place, tens of millions of girls have disappeared from the population. They were killed in utero by sex-selection abortions, at birth by female infanticide, or after birth by simple neglect.  (……)

One place that Chinese men look for brides is the other side of the Yalu River, for in North Korea there are lots of hungry young women longing for a better life. The population of Kim Jong Un’s socialist paradise subsists in near famine conditions, with two in five North Koreans undernourished and more than two-thirds on food aid.  [Fox News]

You can read more at the link, but the 85% number discussed in the article has actually increased from the 80% number in 2015.

Besides the sex industry in China, the other factor that plays into this is that most of the men in North Korea are also tied up working in state owned factories or the military.  This leaves the women to often be the ones working in the various markets that have sprang up around North Korea.  The women working in the markets develop contacts with businessmen bringing goods in from China.  This makes the women thus more susceptible to seeking to cross the border themselves.

Of further interest is that many of the North Korean refugees when they do come to South Korea end up becoming part of the sex industry in that country as well.

President Moon Receives Little Respect During Visit to China

President Moon’s trip to China began with him receiving a cold shoulder from the Chinese:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (2nd from R) gives remarks at the South Korea-China expanded summit talks in Beijing on Dec. 14, 2017. (Yonhap)

The early part of President Moon Jae-in’s state visit to China this week was marred by Beijing’s mistreatment of the Korean leader, who is making his first visit to the country since taking office in May.

Upon arrival in Beijing, President Moon was greeted by Kong Xuanyou, Chinese assistant minister of foreign affairs and special representative on Korean Peninsula affairs.

During a state visit last year by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, China sent Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the airport to greet him. Considering such a precedence, Beijing should have sent a higher official than one of its foreign ministry’s assistant ministers to greet the Korean head of state.

Aside from the inappropriate airport greeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping was out of town on the day of Moon’s arrival. Xi was in China’s eastern city of Nanjing to preside over a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the 1937 Nanking Massacre by Japanese troops. Korean Ambassador to China Noh Young-min attended the event at the order of the President rather than greet him at the airport. The President reportedly told him it is more important for an ambassador to take part in a meaningful event in the host country. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and other key figures in Chinese government were also absent from Beijing as they were also taking part in the Nanjing ceremony.

Cheong Wa Dae dismissed the media reports of Moon getting mistreated by China, but one cannot help getting the impression so far that China is not very enthusiastic about Moon’s visit.  [Korea Times]

Then there was the beatdown of a South Korean journalist by Chinese security that marred a business event that President Moon attended.  Then the Chinese refused to issue a joint statement about the lingering THAAD issue:

Calling the media reports “narrow-minded,” the state-run outlet reported on China’s stance over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

“The issue has become the biggest obstacle to the Bejing-Seoul relationship. The two governments partly reached an agreement on how to solve the problem, but some differences remain unsolved. The fact that the two sides will not issue a joint statement is a reflection of the differences.”

Lee Chang-ju, researcher for the Korea Logistics Forum, said the provocative editorial mirrors lingering domestic concerns in China. The Huanqiu Shibao has been outspoken in defending China’s national interest.

“If the two countries had issued a joint statement focusing on economic cooperation without mentioning THAAD, South Korea would have viewed it as a full-fledged solution to the THAAD, which China cannot accept,” Lee said  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but it is pretty clear that the Chinese government is going to continue to politically use THAAD as a wedge issue to separate the ROK from the United States.  The Chinese feel that that the US is trying to recreate the old USSR containment strategy against them and thus are taking actions to counter this.  They have made inroads within the Philippines at countering US influence there and are doing the something with the ROK using the phony THAAD dispute.

South Korean Journalist Beatdown By Chinese Security While Covering Presidential Summit

I guess these South Korean journalists forgot they are in a country without freedom of the press:

A South Korean journalist lies on the ground after being beaten by a group of Chinese security guards under the leadership of the Chinese police at a South Korean trade fair attended by South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Beijing on Dec. 14, 2017. (Yonhap)

More than a dozen Chinese security guards beat and injured a South Korean photojournalist who was covering a business function attended by South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday hours before his summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The incident occurred at a convention center in Beijing where a trade fair was held involving some 200 South Korean firms and 500 prospective Chinese buyers. Moon is currently on a four-day state visit to China that began Wednesday.

A group of 14 South Korean journalists was covering the event when the Chinese guards blocked them from following the president who was then visiting various booths of South Korean firms at the fair, according to pool reports.

The journalists protested the blockage and one of them, a photojournalist, was taken outside of the venue by some 15 Chinese security guards.

The journalist took a severe beating while being completely surrounded by the guards despite strong protests from his colleagues and South Korean officials, including those from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

The journalist was taken to a hospital after Moon’s medical staff examined him and said he required intensive treatment, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I doubt anything is going to happen to these security guards.  The Chinese government had mobs go and beat down Koreans in the streets of Seoul before and nothing happened to them.  They were instead considered national heroes.

I would not be surprised if the assault was deliberate to send a message to South Korean journalists which the Chinese state run media has been criticizing over their coverage of President Moon’s visit to China.

Report Claims North Korea Preparing for SLBM Test

Could an Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile test be the next North Korean provocation?  I guess we will find out:

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 25, 2016 shows a test-fire of strategic submarine-launched ballistic missile being launched at an undisclosed location. KNS/AFP/Getty

The Pentagon says the U.S. is “well postured” to deal with a possible submarine-launched ballistic missile from North Korea.

The Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun reported last week that North Korea has completed development of five prototypes for an upgraded SLBM and will likely test it soon.

Pentagon spokesman Robert Manning wouldn’t comment on any matters of specific intelligence regarding North Korea on Monday – but said within the deep arsenal of U.S. capabilities, Washington is well postured to deal with it.  [KBS Global]

You can read more at the link, but an SLBM test is something that has been speculated on for many months.

US Secretary of State Says He is Willing to Meet with North Korea to Discuss the Weather

Another ICBM test has quickly changed the calculations at the State Department in regards to talks with North Korea:

Rex Tillerson

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that Washington is willing to begin talks with North Korea without preconditions.

Tillerson’s remark came as tensions have increased over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs with its latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Nov. 29.

“We’re ready to talk whenever North Korea is ready to talk and we’re willing to have a first meeting without preconditions,” he told a forum here. “We can talk about the weather if you want.”

It was a markedly different tone from Washington’s earlier insistence that Pyongyang first halt its missile and nuclear testing and demonstrate its sincerity about denuclearization.

“I don’t think it’s realistic if you say we’re only going to talk if you give up your programs,” Tillerson continued. “It really depends on how you bring it up. He’s clearly not like his father or his grandfather, and we don’t know what it will be like to engage with him.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.