Fake Bills, Nuclear Impasse Haunt Korean Border
In February, at a market in Seoul, South Korea, three people were caught trying to exchange $140,000 in "supernotes." That's the name for counterfeit U.S. $100 dollar bills that are manufactured in North Korea.
The discovery was embarrassing for the South Korean government, which is not eager to crack down on counterfeiters for fear of disrupting a policy of engagement with the North. North Korea backed out of six-party talks on its nuclear ambitions in November, saying it won't participate until the U.S. stops pursuing the counterfeiting issue.
South Korea's ambiguous position on counterfeiters is straining the longtime U.S. ally's currently shaky relationship with the Bush administration. And while many analysts believe that Pyongyang -- its finances squeezed -- must eventually return to the negotiating table, the delay causes more anxiety about North Korean progress toward nuclear weapons.
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