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)
Short Url
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.


Bad week for Mexico tourism capped by mis-translations

Updated 08 August 2020

Bad week for Mexico tourism capped by mis-translations

  • The snafu has prompted former president Felipe Calderón to write in his Twitter account: “Stop making Mexico look ridiculous!”
  • Local media reports say the errors may have been introduced by a web services supplier angry about not being paid

MEXICO CITY: It has been a bad week for Mexican tourism promotion, and it got worse Friday when the English language version of the country’s tourism website appeared with hilarious mis-translations.
Entire states like Hidalgo and Guerrero apparently got machine translated as “Noble” and “Warrior.”
Worse for the VisitMexico.com site, there was systematic and inexplicable re-invention of the names of some fairly well-known tourist towns. The Caribbean resort of Tulum somehow became “Jumpsuit.” The nearby lagoon of Bacalar, on the Caribbean coast, was switched to the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.
The snafu came one day after the US State Department cited the high number of COVID-19 cases in Mexico for issuing a “do not travel” advisory for the country, its highest level of warning. Hours earlier, the resort of Acapulco was forced to pull “anything goes” tourism ads that showed people partying without masks and the words “there are no rules.”
But the problems at VisitMexico.com drew howls of hilarity — and anger. The Pacific coast resort of Puerto Escondido became “Hidden Port,” a literal translation, and the northern city of Torreon became “Turret,” which is kind of close.
Some name changes were just inexplicable and appeared to have as much to do with invention as simple translation. The central Mexican town of Aculco somehow became “I Blame,” and the northern Gulf coast city of Ciudad Madero became “Log.”
“Stop making Mexico look ridiculous!” former President Felipe Calderón wrote in his Twitter account.
Mexico’s Tourism Department issued a statement apologizing for the apparently out-sourced errors, but then made it sound like something sinister had been involved.
“The Tourism Department expresses its most sincere apologies to the public and users for the effects that have occurred on the website VisitMexico,” the statement said. “Moreover, we make it known that these acts aim to damage the image of the website and the department, and so therefore a criminal complaint has been filed and appropriate legal actions will be taken against those responsible.”
The department did not explain that claim, but local media reported the dispute might involve a web services supplier angry about not being paid.
On Thursday, officials took down a pair of Acapulco video ads touting the faded resort’s reputation as a nightclubbing spot — despite the fact nightclubs are currently closed to enforce social distancing. They said the ads weren’t appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have stopped being a postcard from the past, today we have changed the rules,” says a narration in one of the videos. “In fact, there are no rules,” says another voice, as people can be seen eating bizarre meals and going out to night clubs. “Eat whatever you want, have fun day and night and into the early morning hours ... find new friends and new loves.”