Money laundering: South Korean washes currency over coronavirus fears, destroys them instead

Above, an employee checks newly printed South Korean currency in Gyeongsan, southeast of Seoul, in this May 29, 2015 file photo. (AFP)
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Updated 31 July 2020

Money laundering: South Korean washes currency over coronavirus fears, destroys them instead

  • Amount in question was condolence money given by relatives, friends

SEOUL, South Korea: Money laundering is not a good idea, as a South Korean found out when he or she put banknotes in a washing machine to remove possible traces of the coronavirus.
Officials say the loss was considerable.
The person living in Ansan city, near Seoul, placed an unspecified amount of 50,000-won ($42) bills in a washing machine earlier this year. Some of the money was seriously damaged, and the person reached out to the Bank of Korea to find whether it could be exchanged for new bills.
Under bank rules on the exchange of damaged, mutilated and contaminated banknotes, the person was provided with the new currency totaling about 23 million won ($19,320), the Bank of Korea said in a statement.
Bank official Seo Jee Woun said the number of 50,000-won bills the bank exchanged at half value was 507. She said the bank doesn’t count the number of bills that it cannot exchange because damage is too big.
She said bank officials didn’t know exactly how much money the person tried to wash.
She said the loss would still be “considerable.”
How much the central bank should exchange in a situation like this depends on how seriously banknotes are damaged. The bank can provide the new currency at face value if damage is minimal, but at half value or not at all if damage is significant.
The amount in question was condolence money given by relatives, friends and others during a family funeral, according to the bank.
The person has been only identified by family name Eom. Bank officials gave no further personal information citing privacy law.
How about microwaving money?
According to the bank, another person, surnamed Kim, put bills in a microwave over similar coronavirus concerns earlier this year. The bank exchanged Kim’s damaged money with the new currency worth 5.2 million won ($4,370). Seo said Kim’s losses were not big.
South Korea’s central bank has advised the public to avoid putting banknotes in a microwave saying its disinfection effect is unclear. Anti-virus guidelines in South Korea don’t include sterilizing money in a washing machine either.


Irish locals show their colors in Biden’s ancestral home

Updated 23 October 2020

Irish locals show their colors in Biden’s ancestral home

  • Biden’s family roots run deep in Ireland, with a heritage described as “roughly five-eighths Irish” by genealogist Megan Smolenyak
  • Ten percent of Americans claim Irish heritage — a 31-million-strong bloc vastly larger than the five-million population of Ireland itself

BALLINA, Ireland: Thousands of miles east of the White House in Ireland, a pop-art portrait of US presidential candidate Joe Biden towers over his ancestral hometown of Ballina, County Mayo.
In the town on Ireland’s rugged Atlantic coast, the Democrat’s distant relatives are thrilled to have one of their own bidding for America’s highest office.
“Obviously we’re 100 percent behind Joe Biden,” Laurita Blewitt, the former vice president’s third cousin, told AFP.
“We’ve got that family connection and we’ve got that friendship and relationship with him,” the 37-year-old said.
Biden’s family roots run deep in Ireland, with a heritage described as “roughly five-eighths Irish” by genealogist Megan Smolenyak.
She has traced his lineage to east-coast County Louth and Ballina — a town of 10,000 people, which is dotted with brightly colored shopfronts and bisected by the River Moy.
In 1851, Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewitt joined the legions of Irish fleeing famine and poverty for a fresh start in New York.
The mural was raised by a band of locals last month, and Ballina is twinned with Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Biden was born in 1942.
The 77-year-old politician has visited twice — first in 2016 when crowds turned out to see president Barack Obama’s deputy.
In 2017 he came back and turned the first sod for a new regional hospice — a cause near to his heart after his son Beau’s death from cancer two years earlier.
Biden wrote that when he dies, “northeast Pennsylvania will be written on my heart.”
“But Ireland will be written on my soul.”
He is mining a rich tradition of American statesmen touting Irish heritage.
In the 20th century, John F. Kennedy was most closely tied to the “Emerald Isle,” and had to overcome anti-Irish, anti-Catholic prejudice to win the White House.
But others including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama have all claimed ancestral links to Ireland.
Ten percent of Americans claim Irish heritage — a 31-million-strong bloc vastly larger than the five-million population of Ireland itself.
Those links helped give Washington an intermediary role in resolving the 30-year “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, a sectarian conflict that killed 3,500 in Ireland and the British province itself, before it largely ended in 1998.
Lately, Britain’s Brexit withdrawal from the European Union has threatened the cohesion promised by Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement.
US politicians have stepped in, warning London that a post-Brexit UK-US trade pact could be at risk if the peace is undermined.
Their alarm has reportedly been stoked by energetic briefing by the Irish embassy in Washington.
“The connections between Ireland and the US are incredibly strong,” said Ballina local councillor Mark Duffy.
“It is that soft power,” he added. “Ireland does definitely punch above its weight on the international stage.”