A top North Korean general and close advisor to the country's leader, Kim Jong-Il, has been named by U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies as a key figure in the production of high-quality counterfeit $100 bills, called supernotes, according to documents and interviews cited by The Washington Times.
North Korean Gen. O Kuk-ryol, who was recently promoted to the country's powerful National Defense Commission, is said to be in charge of creating the false $100 bills, which are produced to look nearly indistinguishable from authentic U.S. banknotes. Several members of the general's family are also believed to be involved, The Washington Times reported.
A government report obtained by The Washington Times from a diplomatic source names Gen. O as one of the regime’s most powerful military figures, and the key person in charge of facilitating the succession of Kim Jong-Il by his third son, Kim Jong-un. The North Korean leader suffered a stroke in August, and his appearance in recent months suggests he is in ill-health.
The information about the general in the report was confirmed by a senior U.S. Intelligence official as well as by additional officials with knowledge of North Korean activities, The Washington Times reported.
North Korea has been linked to counterfeiting for many years, but the recent report is unusually detailed in its account of how North Korea is using illegal activities to raise funds for the regime and its reclusive leader. The new details were released as the United Nations considers new economic sanctions against North Korea for an underground test of a nuclear weapon last week.
An assistant to North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, Sin Son Ho, rebuked the allegations.
"As far as I know, this has already been, how to say, rejected by my government," the assistant, who asked not to be named, told The Washington Times. "We have nothing to do with counterfeiting of American money. This was stated by my officials several times."