North Korea

North Korea new 5,000-won note confirmed

According to an article in The Hindu Business Line dated 11 August 2014, the portrait of Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea, has been removed from the new 5,000-won note in favor of the birthplace of Kim Il Sung in Mangyongdae, with the back depicting the International Friendship Exhibition building in Myohyang-san.

North_Korea_DPRK_5000_won_2013.00.00_B57a_PNL_0096244_f
North_Korea_DPRK_5000_won_2013.00.00_B57a_PNL_0096244_r
DPRK B57 (PNL): 5,000 (won)
Brown and pink. Front: Coat of arms; trees; houses (birthplace of Kim Il Sung) in Mangyongdae; five-pointed star within a star. Back: International Friendship Exhibition building in Myohyang-san. Solid security thread with printed text. Watermark: Mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Printer: Unknown. 145 x 65 mm.
a. 2013. Intro: 2014.

Anyone interested in buying one of these notes can contact the contributor by clicking the link below.

Courtesy of Danny Verheij, Mark Irwin, Alex Klark, and Noteshobby.

North Korea new 100th birthday commemorative notes confirmed

North_Korea_DPRK_5_won_2002.00.00_B48a_PNL_8712477_fNorth_Korea_DPRK_5_won_2002.00.00_B48a_PNL_8712477_ovpt
North Korea has issued into circulation all denominations (5 to 5,000 won) with a 100th birthday overprint in the upper left corner. Other than the overprint, these notes are identical to the preceding issues (DPRK B39 - B47).

Courtesy of Thomas Augustsson.

North Korea chapter of The Banknote Book is now available

North Korea cover

The North Korea chapter of The Banknote Book is now available for individual sale at US$9.99, and as a free download to subscribers. BONUS: Buyers of this chapter also get the South Korea chapter free! Also available in print.

This 23-page catalog covers every note (149 types and varieties, including 31 notes unlisted in the SCWPM) issued by the Red Army Headquarters in 1945, the Central Bank of North Korea in 1947, the Trade Bank of DPRK in 1988, and the Central Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from 1959 to present day.

Each chapter of The Banknote Book includes detailed descriptions and background information, full-color images, and accurate valuations. The Banknote Book also features:
  • Sharp color images of note’s front and back without overlap
  • Face value or date of demonetization if no longer legal tender
  • Specific identification of all vignette elements
  • Security features described in full
  • Printer imprint reproduced exactly as on note
  • Each date/signature variety assigned an individual letter
  • Variety checkboxes for tracking your collection and want list
  • Red stars highlight the many notes missing from the SCWPM
  • Date reproduced exactly as on note
  • Precise date of introduction noted when known
  • Replacement note information
  • Signature tables, often with names and terms of service
  • Background information for historical and cultural context
  • Details magnified to distinguish between note varieties
  • Bibliographic sources listed for further research

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North Korea 2003 savings bonds confirmed

Several collectors have contacted me asking about the following items which have recently appeared on the market. According to the Korean wife of a contributor to The Banknote Book, these are bank savings bonds issued by the North Korea Central Bank in 2003. The back is divided into two parts. The left side gives instructions for the bond, stating that the bond is only good at the bank. If lost, the bank will not replace. The bond is good for one year only. At the end of the year, the bank will pay 4% interest. The bonds can't be cashed early. The right side has information for the bond: date issued, date cashed, and the last line is for the bank issuer's signature.

If you collect banknotes only, you should skip these items. If you collect all manner of paper financial instruments, feel free to add copies to your collection.

North_Korea_5000_D_2003.00.00_PNL_131247_f
North_Korea_5000_D_2003.00.00_PNL_131247_r

North_Korea_10000_D_2003.00.00_PNL_176347_f
North_Korea_10000_D_2003.00.00_PNL_176347_r

North_Korea_50000_D_2003.00.00_PNL_110597_f
North_Korea_50000_D_2003.00.00_PNL_110597_r

North_Korea_100000_D_2003.00.00_PNL_106347_f
North_Korea_100000_D_2003.00.00_PNL_106347_r

North Korea new 1,000-won note confirmed


1,000 won, 2008. Pink. Front: Coat of arms; house (birthplace of Kim Jong Suk, Kim Il Sung’s first wife and Kim Jong Il’s mother) in Hoeryong. Back: Birch trees on shore of Lake Samji; mountain. Solid security thread with printed text. Watermark: Mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Printer: Unknown. 145 x 65 mm. Intro: 30.11.2009.

Courtesy of Thomas Augustsson.

North Korea new variety foreign exchange certificate reported

The Bank of Trade of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea issued foreign exchange certificates in 1988. They were used until 1999, then officially abolished in 2002, in favor of foreign currencies. There are two well-known sets of certificates. The blue and green set (P23-P30) for capitalist visitors and red certificates (P31-P38) for use by visitors exchanging currency from socialist countries.

However, the following two notes have recently been reported. They are exactly like Pick 23 and Pick 27, respectively, except they are red and brown in color, not blue and green. Does anyone know anything about these? Are the other denominations available in this color scheme too?





Courtesy of Alexey Semakov.

North Korea new 5,000-won note confirmed


5,000 won, 2008. Brown and pink. Front: Coat of arms; star; Kim Il Sung; mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Back: Trees; houses (birthplace of Kim Il Sung) in Mangyongdae. Solid security thread with printed text. Watermark: Mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Printer: Unknown. 145 x 65 mm. Intro: 30.11.2009.

Courtesy of Jean-Michel Engels.

North Korea new 2,000-won note confirmed


2,000 won, 2008. Light blue and gray. Front: Coat of arms; Jong Il Peak, trees, and cabin (birthplace of Kim Jong Il). Back: Trees and Baekdu (white-headed) Mountain. Solid security thread with printed text. Watermark: Mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Printer: Unknown. 145 x 65 mm.. Intro: 30.11.2009.

Courtesy of Jean-Michel Engels.

North Korea new 500-won note confirmed


500 won, 2008. Gray and purple. Front: Coat of arms; Arch of Triumph. Back: Denomination and guilloché pattern. Solid security thread with printed text. Watermark: Mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Printer: Unknown. Dimensions 145 x 65 mm. Intro: 30.11.2009.

Courtesy of Jean-Michel Engels.

North Korea new 200-won note confirmed


200 won, 2008. Violet. Front: Coat of arms; statue of woman with wheat and man with book riding Chollima (thousand mile horse) in Pyongyang. Back: Denomination and guilloché pattern. Solid security thread with printed text. Watermark: Mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Printer: Unknown. 145 x 65. Intro: 30.11.2009.

Courtesy of Torsten Fuhlendorf.

North Korea new 100-won note confirmed


100 won, 2008. Green. Front: Coat of arms; mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Back: Denomination and guilloché pattern. Solid security thread with printed text. Watermark: Mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Printer: Unknown. 145 x 65. Intro: 30.11.2009.

Courtesy of Torsten Fuhlendorf.

North Korea new 10- and 50-won notes confirmed


10 won, 2002. Blue, green, and purple. Front: Coat of arms; star; pilot, sailor, and soldier. Back: Military statues with soldier holding flag. No security thread. Watermark: Mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Printer: Unknown. 145 x 65 mm. Intro: 30.11.2009.


50 won, 2002. Purple. Front: Coat of arms; flame atop Juche Idea monument in Pyongyang; man in business suit, man in overalls, and woman wearing blouse. Back: Party Foundation Monument in Pyongyang with hands holding hammer, paint brush, and sickle. No security thread. Watermark: Mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Printer: Unknown. 145 x 65 mm. Intro: 30.11.2009.

Courtesy of Torsten Fuhlendorf.

North Korea new 5-won note confirmed


5 won, 2002. Blue, green, and purple. Front: Coat of arms; atomic symbol; man with glasses; boy with cap. Back: Dam. No security thread. Watermark: Mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Printer: Unknown. 145 x 65 mm. Intro: 30.11.2009.

Courtesy of Alberto Fochi.

North Korea 5-won overprinted 2002 note confirmed


This 5-won note is like Pick 19 with an original date of 1978, but overprinted in black “Sun’s Day, Celebration, 90th Anniversary 15th. 4. Juche 91 (2002)” in honor of the 90th birthday (15.04.2002) of President Kim Il Sung.

Does anyone know if other denominations are available with this overprint, and if this was issued as a commemorative note or as a numismatic product not intended for circulation?

Courtesy of Bill Stubkjaer.

North Korea 1998 500-won variety confirmed


Apparently there are two varieties of North Korea’s 500-won note dated 1998 (Pick 44). The first one features fine lines in the clouds surrounding the palace on the front (above, top). On the second one, reportedly issued in 2002 or 2005, the fine lines of the clouds blur into a solid fog as they get closer to the palace (above, bottom). There are also slight differences in the clouds depicted on the back of the note, and it appears that the color of the square seal with star on the watermark area may also be different, though this may be due to variations in printing over time.

Courtesy of Rui Manuel Palhares.

North Korea watermark varieties reported

It has recently been reported that the North Korea 100-won note dated 1992 (Pick 43) is available with three different watermark varieties: small Arch of Triumph at angle, large Arch of Triumph straight on, and no watermark. The color scheme and printing on the note with the bigger arch watermark is slightly lighter than the others.



In reality, the watermark isn’t missing from the rightmost example, it’s just misplaced. Document security expert Rudolf L. van Renesse has sent a detailed examination of these notes which proves conclusively that there are watermarks in the wrong positions which can be seen under the proper viewing angles.

Collectors are encouraged to examine their North Korean notes carefully and report any other denominations which have different watermark varieties.

Courtesy of Ömer Yalcinkaya and Rudolf L. van Renesse.

North Korea revalues and replaces currency

According to a report on DailyNK, the North Korean central bank has revalued and is replacing the national currency as of 30 November 2009. With the exchange rate of 100:1, the formerly largest denomination of 5,000 won is now equivalent to 50 new won. Apparently there are nine new won notes ranging from 5 to 5,000 won, which matches the previous currency structure with the exception that the 1-won note has been replaced by a coin and the 2,000-won denomination is new.

There is little concrete information on the reason for this move. Speculation is that the government hopes to dampen inflation, harm the black market, or uncover large caches of hidden cash. The official exchange rate of the won had been 140 to the US dollar, but on the black market it traded at closer to 3,000 to one.

Initially, the government planned to allow each household to exchange up to 100,000 won for new banknotes, but in the face of public protests, the exchangeable amount has been increased, initially to 150,000 won, then later to 500,000 won. These limitations apply only to cash; won deposited in banks can be converted, but only after officials investigate the source of funds over one million won. Citizens have from between 30 November and 6 December to exchange currency. New notes will start circulating from 7 December.



Courtesy of Paul Nahmias and Alex Klark.

North Korea new 500-won note confirmed


500 won, 2007. Green and purple. Front: Coat of arms; Kumsusan Memorial Palace (Kim Il Sung Mausoleum) in Pyongyang; mongnan (Seibold’s magnolia) flowers. Back: Suspension bridge over river; olive branch. No security thread. Watermark: Unknown. Printer: Unknown. 155 x 75 mm.

Like Pick 44, but new date and the banner beneath the denomination on the bottom right and left front does not extend to note’s edge.

Courtesy of Rui Manuel Palhares.

North Korea new 1,000-won note confirmed


1,000 won. Green and light blue. Front: Coat of arms; flowers; Kim Il Sung. Back: Trees; houses (birthplace of Kim Il Sung) in Mangyongdae. No security thread. Watermark: Arch of Triumph. 155 x 75 mm. Dated 2006.

Like Pick 45, but new date and the banner beneath the denomination on the bottom right and left front does not extend to note’s edge.

Courtesy of Thomas Augustsson.

North Korea revised 5,000-won note confirmed





Like Pick 46a (topmost image), but new date (2006) and dark background banner beneath denomination on bottom right and left front does not extend to note’s edge.

Courtesy of Don Cleveland.

North Korean commemorative notes confirmed













A complete set of North Korean notes with overprints has recently been reported. Unfortunately, little is known about these notes other than that they appear to be the latest issued notes (dates range from 1992 to 2007) with a common overprint in Korean and the Western numerals 95. The literal translation of the overprint is “Great leader Kim Ilsung comrade birth 95th.” Since he was born April 15, 1912, his 95th birthday would have been celebrated in 2007. This seems to fit the latest date on the notes, but does not necessarily mean the notes were issued in 2007. If anyone knows the actual date of introduction, please send me an email so that I can share that information. Also, I’d be interested to learn if these were issued for circulation, or if they were sold only as a numismatic product in special packaging.

Courtesy of Jim Rubycored Chen and Wonsik Kang.