North Korean Won

The won became the official currency of North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) on December 6, 1947. It has the symbol ₩ and the code KPW. The won is issued by the Central Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Foreign Exchange Certificates (FECs) are being issued by the Bank of Trade for visitors. There are two varieties of FECs, one is of the color blue-green for capitalist countries, and the other is red for socialist countries. That is because that North Korean won are exclusively for North Korea citizens. The won is subdivided into 100 chon. There are reports saying that in some stores in Pyongyang, the won is not accepted. They trade with US Dollars or with Japanese Yen.

In 1947, banknotes of the first won were circulated at denominations of 15 chon, 20 chon and 50 chon with 1, 5, 10 and 100 won. They were later replaced by the second won in 1959. At the time of the Cold War, special systems for marking coins were done to differentiate groups of people. Coins with two stars dictate that it was for capitalists; coins with one star were for socialist visitors; the coin with no stars was for North Koreans. It was in 1988 that the Bank of Trade created two FECs. The design for capitalist countries is the Chollima statue, while the socialist notes showed the International Friendship Exhibition. Both certificates have 1 chon, 5 chon, 10 chon, 50 chon, ₩1, ₩5, ₩10, and ₩50 denominations on them. Banknotes of ₩1,000 and ₩5,000 were revised in 2006. A year later, the ₩500 was also revised and was further engraved to avoid counterfeits. The ₩100, ₩1,000 and ₩5,000 bills have exactly the same design, but they differ in color. The third won, in current times, issued banknotes of 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 won; with coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, and 50 chon and 1 won.

Exchange rates as of February 23, 2011 were as follows with 1 US Dollar = 135.000 North Korean Won; 1 North Korean Won = 0.007407 US Dollar.

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