Buyers Reject North Korean Banknotes Featuring Kim Il Sung Sold as Souvenirs in China

The banknotes find no buyers, with both Chinese and North Korean passersby calling them worthless.
Buyers Reject North Korean Banknotes Featuring Kim Il Sung Sold as Souvenirs in China North Korean banknotes showing the image of founding leader Kim Il Sung are shown in a file photo.

North Korean banknotes bearing founder Kim Il Sung’s image displayed by street vendors in Chinese cities near the countries’ shared border are finding no buyers, with both Chinese and North Korean passersby calling them worthless, sources in China said.

Notes bearing the portrait of North Korea’s founding leader and offered in various denominations are now being sold in some parts of Dandong, a Chinese city lying just across the Yalu River from the North Korean city of Sinuiju, an ethnic Korean living in China told RFA’s Korean Service.

“A few days ago, I saw a street vendor selling North Korean banknotes he had spread out on the street and was enthusiastically offering them to passersby as souvenirs, but nobody wanted to buy them,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“To attract potential buyers, the vendor said that the packet of bills of different denominations he was selling for 35 yuan (U.S. $5.42) also included a note for 10,000 won in North Korean currency, but people ridiculed the offer, saying the money had no value as a souvenir,” the source said.

The vendor then pushed North Korean 25-won banknotes into people’s hands to persuade them to buy, but one person threw his back, saying, “I wouldn’t take this even if it were free,” the source said, adding that vendors will often unfold their banknotes so that Kim Il Sung’s face is visibly displayed.

“But people just look down at Kim Il Sung’s portrait on the bills, show contempt, and refuse to buy them,” he said.

North Koreans visiting China are also unimpressed and show no interest in the bills, RFA’s source said.

“A few days ago, I was speaking with a North Korean banknote merchant, and he told me an interesting story, saying that he had recently stopped a group of passersby and urged them to buy some banknotes as souvenirs.”

When the vendor saw that the men he had stopped were North Korean trade representatives, he looked at their faces to see if they were displeased or would complain that money bearing the portrait of their country’s founder had been spread out on the ground.

“But they just glanced at the portraits spread out on the street and showed no interest or reaction at all,” he said.

Though Kim Il Sung’s face is displayed on North Korean banknotes offered for sale, passersby only glance at the bills and sarcastically ask, “Where could I possibly use these?” the source said.

Reported by Jeong Yon Park. Translated by Jinha Shin. Edited by Joongsok Oh. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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