Fletcher in the News

Why North Korea Won't Be Happy About New $100 Bill: Professor Lee Comments

Sung-Yoon Lee is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

New $100 bill is aimed at staying ahead of counterfeiters. First and foremost, impoverished North Korea.

Ben Franklin is about to cause a lot more headaches than you might expect in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

An Associated Press report on security features found on the new US $100 bill.

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday began circulating a redesign of a US currency note that may be the most counterfeited monetary unit in the world: the $100 bill.

Graced with Mr. Franklin’s bemused gaze on one side and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on the other, the bill is the first new version of the C-note to be distributed by US monetary administrators in a decade. The note features a woven “3-D security ribbon” running vertically along the left side of Franklin’s face, with liberty bells that turn into 100s as you move the bill side to side. It also has a liberty bell in an inkwell that shifts in color as you tilt it…

…While currency counterfeiting may be known in the popular imagination as the work of backroom, ink-stained criminals, impoverished North Korea has long been known for its creative efforts to generate badly-needed hard currency. The totalitarian state has been all but quarantined from the global economy, isolated by sanctions and other measures to punish it for its nuclear programs and missile proliferation efforts…

…Even before the devastating famine, counterfeiting a variety of goods was central to revenue generation, helping to build a “palace economy” to ensure the loyalty of North Korea’s elites, says Sung-Yoon Lee, a Korean expert and assistant professor at The Fletcher School at Tufts University…

…“The regime relies on criminal activities, because it has no other means for generating revenue,” he says.

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