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.
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).
|Currently Circulating Coins|
|Value||Technical parameters||Description||Date of minted year|
|Diameter||Composition||Obverse|| Reverse||Bank title, Coat of arms, value, year of minting|
|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
|Value||Dimensions||Main Color||Description||Date of issue|
|₩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|
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.