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S. Korea Makes Money by Making Money


GYEONGSAN, South Korea — North Korea is notorious for its highly skilled counterfeiting, especially of American $100 bills. South Korea, however, is gaining a global reputation for minting money legitimately.

Many new 10 baht coins are not being minted in Thailand. The work has been outsourced to a state-funded Korean facility, that has also made rupees for India, agorot and half-shekels for Israel and centavos and pesos for Argentina. Korea Minting, Security Printing and ID Card Operating Corporation (KOMSCO) can produce more than one billion coins annually.

The printing presses make notes for countries across Asia including Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as postal money orders for Bangladesh.

KOMSCO sees exports as a driver for its future growth. Thus it is hoping to increasingly fill, around the world, pockets, purses and wallets with money made in South Korea.

The raw materials for this money-making enterprise come from many countries. Currency notes begin as cotton pulp from China and Uzbekistan, and are later printed on machines imported from Switzerland and Germany. The company is a global leader in anti-counterfeiting technology.

"Our 50,000 won note [worth roughly $50] has 22 anti-counterfeiting elements," said Bang Chang-il, a senior production control manager in the printing department. "In Japan, the U.S. and the United Kingdom their bills have only 14 while European notes have 21 such features."

The company says the special security ink it has developed is exported to Japan and Switzerland for making state-of-the-art currency, designed to foil even the most skilled counterfeiters.

Youmi Kim in the VOA Seoul Bureau contributed to this report as well.

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