Definitions

North Korean won

North Korean won

The wŏn (sign: ; code: KPW) is the currency of North Korea. It is subdivided into 100 chŏn. The wŏn is issued by the Central Bank of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Etymology

Wŏn is a cognate of the Chinese yuan and Japanese yen. The wŏn was subdivided into 100 chŏn (전; 錢; McCune-Reischauer: chŏn; Revised Romanization: jeon).

History

The wŏn became the currency of North Korea on December 6, 1947, replacing the Korean yen that was still in circulation. It was revalued at a rate of one hundred to one in 1959. For the earlier Korean wŏn, see Korean wŏn.

North Korean wŏn are intended exclusively for North Korean citizens, and the Bank of Trade (무역은행) issued a separate currency (or foreign exchange certificates) for visitors, like many other socialist states. However, North Korea made 2 varieties of foreign exchange certificates, one for visitors from "socialist countries" which were coloured red, and the other for visitors from "capitalist countries" which were coloured blue/green. In recent times, FECs have been largely deprecated in favor of visitors paying directly with hard currency, especially the euro.

Since 2001, the North Korean government has abandoned the iconic rate of 2.16 wŏn to the dollar (which is said to have been based upon Kim Jong-il's birthday, February 16) and banks in the country now issue at rates closer to the black market rate. A more recent official rate has shown the North Korean won to be 142.45 to the dollar. However, rampant inflation has been eroding the North Korean wŏn's value to such an extent that currently it is believed to be worth about the same as the South Korean wŏn. In any case, the U.S. dollar and other currencies are still worth more in North Korean wŏn on the black market than officially. This is also apparent when one examines the dates of issue or series of the different denominations of banknotes (see below).

Coins

Older coins for circulation were the 1, 5, 10 and 50 chon along with the 1 won. All of there issues were made in Aluminium. Current coins in circulation are:

Currently Circulating Coins
Value Technical parameters Description Date of minted year
Diameter Composition Obverse Reverse
Bank title, Coat of arms, value, year of minting
₩10 23 mm Value 2005 N/A N/A
₩50 25 mm 2005 N/A N/A
₩100 27 mm 2005 N/A N/A
During the Cold War there was a special system of marking coins for different groups of people. Coins with no stars were for North Koreans, coins with 1 star were for "socialist visitors", and coins with 2 stars were for "capitalist visitors". Besides the circulating coins, there's an abundance of different commemorative coins minted in the name of the DPRK. Most, if not all of them are sold to foreign numismatists.

Banknotes

As explained above, there are two varieties of foreign certificates. For the 1978 banknote series, foreign certificates were implemented by overstamp and serial number color:

Variation of the 1978 Series
Overstamp Serial number color Target users
None 1 red, 1 black General circulation
Green with Korean text 2 black Socialist visitors
Green with Korean text 2 red Capitalist visitors
Red with numeral 2 red Replaced the original unstamped notes
Blue with numeral 2 black Unknown

In 1988, the Bank of Trade (무역은행) (as opposed to the Central Bank) issued 2 unique series of foreign certificates. They both included 1 chŏn, 5 chŏn, 10 chŏn, 50 chŏn, ₩1, ₩5, ₩10, and ₩50. The series for "capitalist visitors" was blue-green, while the series for "socialist visitors" was pink. The chŏn notes had a simple design of patterns and the values, while the socialist wŏn notes depict the International Friendship Exhibition, and the capitalist wŏn notes depict the Chollima statue.

Banknotes in circulation are

1992 Series
Value Dimensions Main Color Description Date of issue
Obverse Reverse Watermark
₩1 116 × 55 mm Green Young woman with flowers Mount Kumgang Chollima statue 1992
₩5 126 × 60 mm Blue Students with a globe Grand People's Study House 1992, 1998
₩10 136 × 65 mm Brown-orange Factory worker, Chollima statue Flood gates
₩50 146 × 70 mm Orange Young professionals, Juche Tower Landscape Juche Tower 1992
₩100 156 × 75 mm Red and brown Kim Il-sung The birthplace of Kim Il-sung, Mangyongdae Arch of Triumph 1992
₩200 140 × 72 mm Blue and green Flowers Value Chollima statue 2005
₩500 156 × 75 mm Dark green Kumsusan Memorial Palace Suspension bridge Arch of Triumph 1998
₩1000

Green-cyan Kim Il-sung The birthplace of Kim Il-sung, Mangyongdae 2002
₩5000 Violet

Unusually, the 100, 1,000 and 5,000 wŏn bills are of essentially the same basic design, portraying the exact same subjects (although they are colored differently). North Korea has in the past issued whole series of foreign exchange certificates in which the designs are exactly the same, right down to color, only the denomination being different.

See also

References

External links

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