www.groovekorea.com / October 2014 28 Edited by Matthew Lamers (mattlamers@groovekorea.com) INSIghT ThE NORTh KOREA COLumN AbOuT ThE WRITER Christopher Green is the manager of international affairs for Daily NK, an online periodical reporting on North Korean affairs from Seoul. The opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of Groove Korea. For more information, visit dailynk.com. I n late July, as summer was (not) kicking into gear, the central bank of North Korea replaced the country’s highest denomination currency unit — the 5,000 won bill. This was a big news story, but not for any economic reason: Just as in December 1947, April 1979 and July 1992, when all existing currency units were swapped, and 1998 and 2005, when single new denomination bills were issued, all the state had done was swap one bill for another at a rate of 1:1. The most interesting element was political, and concerned the images on the new money. After paying visits to local branches of the central bank to make their exchanges, sources working with my company, Daily NK, confirmed the appearance of the new bill. On the front there is an image of the Pyongyang house in which the government asserts, seemingly falsely, that Kim Il-sung was born. On the back is the cavernous International Friendship Exhibition complex at Mt. Myohang. Buried in the side of a mountain, this is where the many gifts bestowed upon Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong- il and Kim Jong-un over the years are stored and displayed: a basketball signed by Michael Jordan, for example, and a famously unattractive, not to mention ethically questionable, stuffed alligator holding a tray of cocktail glasses. Therefore, the new money no longer incorporates any likeness of Kim Il-sung, the self-titled North Korean national founder and someone whose image had previously been on the country’s highest denomination currency unit for decades. Column by Christopher green / Illustration by Craig Stuart ThE DiSAPPEARiNg fACE Of KiM il- SuNg EVEN AS ThE ETERNAl PRESiDENT’S fACE fADES fRO M CuRRENCy, ECONOMiC DiffiCulTiES liNgER ON