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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

South Korean Won

50 won,2003

reverse:denomination and date

This coin is in the F.A.O. series. F.A.O. is the food and agricultural organization of the united nations. On the obverse,we can see the sprig of a foodcrop. The crop is mentioned to be an oat sprig in the Krause catalog of coins, and almost everyone repeats what is written there. But it is actually a rice sprig. Korean people eat rice as their staple foodcrop.

 Rice had been a precious and rare thing before the country's modernization. In northern region of the peninsula, in particular, where rice farming was less popular than in the southern provinces due to the lack of paddies, boiled rice or "ssalbap" was a specialty for family celebrations.

About 30 years ago, the biggest wish of hungry children from poor families was without a doubt the desire to eat plain, boiled white rice and beef soup. During those times, not only could they not afford to buy rice but it was not abundant.

A "legendary" sad episode involving the foreign wife of a top national leader in the 1950s showcases the serious shortage of rice at that time: The lady heard that many people, especially in the farming villages, in early spring, were going hungry for they had no rice to eat. She asked, "Then, why don't they eat bread?"

Rice has been cultivated for more than 3,000 years on the peninsula. It is the staple grain of Koreans, which has shaped their culture, dietcooked rice and of rice snacks, though. According to the Korea Rural Economic Institute, Americans' rice consumption per capita rose from 11.9 kilograms in 1990 to 13.4 kilograms in 2003.

Rice farming still remains important politically and socially, even if its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) is less than 10 percent, as seen in the yearly routine of the National Assembly to set the government's purchase price of the year's rice crops from farmers. 

100 won, 1991
korean 100 won
metal:copper nickel
diameter:24 mm
reverse: date and denomination
korean 100 won obverse
The obverse shows the figure of admiral Yi Sun-Shin(1545-1598), who was a famous Korean naval commander, and a hero of Korea. As the lord high admiral of the Korean fleet, he fought the Japanese fleet in 1592. He turned back the Japanese fleet with his innovative turtle ships, and to many, became a national hero. He was shot by a stray bullet in Noryang in 1592, and was posthumously given the title of Chungmugong(duke of loyalty and arts of chivalry).

Admiral Yi achieved a battle record that no one else has in history. Great and well known war generals like Napoleon Bonaparte of France, emperor Frederick of Germany, Hannibal of Persia and even Genghis Khan were defeated at least two times out of twenty odd battles. But Admiral Yi fought 23 battles, and never saw defeat, even in the face of insurmountable odds.

Throughout history, there have been few generals who were adept at frontal assault, sudden attack, concentration and dilation. Napoleon was one, and among admirals, Horatio Nelson of England and  Yi Sun-Shin of korea were the only ones who could do this. In the terms of personal character  and integrity, Yi is far better than Nelson, although both were tactical geniuses. Yi is lesser known as he was born in the far East part of Choson. He drew admiration and reverence in even his adversaries in Japan.

Admiral Yi defeated the Japanese even when his ships were outnumbered 13 to 330. But his greatness does not lie in mere figures, but the fact that he was not driven by any wish of conquest, but of service to his nation; and for which he even laid down the ultimate sacrifice.

500 won, 1988
korean 500 won
metal: copper-nickel
reverse:date and denomination

south korean 500 won obverse
The obverse shows the Red-crowned crane or the Manchurian crane, which is a stately long-legged, long-necked bird whose immaculate snow-white plumage is accented by black secondary feathers, a black neck with contrasting white nape, and a red crown. They stand 1.5 m tall, average 7-10 kg in weight and have a 2.5 m wing span. Unique among the four species of "white" cranes (a group that also includes the Hooded Crane, Black-necked Crane and Whooping Crane) they have snow white primary feathers. The black secondaries form an elegant curling black bustle when the bird is standing. Juvenile birds are also predominately white with black-tipped primaries and dull grayish-brown neck and secondary feathers. Sexes are similar in appearance. They are very long-lived, reaching ages greater than 70 years in captivity. Cranes have specialized vocal adaptations highlighted by an extremely long trachea that coils within a hollow sternum. They produce a wide variety of calls ranging from low pitched purrs to the loud unison calls involved in courtship and pair maintenance. The calls of male and female cranes differ in pitch. The white cranes are the most aquatic of the world's 15 crane species. They inhabit wide open marshes, bogs, and wet meadows where high visibility in daylight leaves them with less need to remain inconspicuous from predators. They have very sharp eyesight, spotting intruders and potential hazards from hundreds of meters away. Red-crowned Cranes roost overnight in rivers or streams to take advantage of the deeper water for predator defense. Their flashy plumage may aid them in territory maintenance. There are two main breeding populations of Red-crowned Cranes: on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, and a larger mainland population that breeds in northeast China and southeastern Russia. Red-crowned Cranes prefer to forage in deep water marshes where they prey on insects, aquatic invertebrates, fish, amphibians and small rodents. Once a firm pair bond has been established, Red-crowned Cranes usually remain mated for life, although they will replace a mate that has died. The most spectacular aspect of crane courtship is the dancing ceremony. They prance stiff-legged around each other, alternately bowing and stretching, with their wings half extended. They punctuate the dance by leaping high into the air with their legs dangling loosely beneath them. When excited they pick up small sticks or pieces of grasses, toss them exuberantly into the air, and then stab at them on the way back down. They perform a duet of their ringing unison calls to further strengthen the pairing. Total world population is estimated at 1500 in the wild with another 700 in zoos around the world. By the severe winter of 1950 the Hokkaido birds were reduced to 25 half-starved birds huddled around a hot spring. Local farmers came to their rescue by supplying them with grain. Japan designated the Red-Crowned crane or tancho as its national bird in 1952. Supplemental feeding, rigorous protection and unflagging public support have enabled them to rebound to over 600 birds by the 1990's. The Red-crowned Crane is protected as a National Monument in South Korea and is also legally protected in North Korea and Russia.


  1. I have a 100WON dated 2009. Can you tell me how much it is worth in U.S. money?

  2. the value would be about 0.5$ in normal condition.

  3. I have a 100 won coin dated 1987

  4. I have a 500 WON dated 1992 Can you tell me how much it is worth in india money?

  5. i have a 500 WON dated 2003.can you tell me how much

  6. wat is my 1987 korean coin worth in us money it is the 3rd coin in the pics but is dated 1987. please contact me @ ( if you have the awnser...please i need some info on this coin

  7. hii kulraj..finally aftr long search..i got ur blog to get details..i hv 500 won of 1997...i want to know its value???? w8ing fr email id is

  8. south Korea 500 won real value is 21.87 paisa

  9. you are an amateur if you think face value is the actual value.

  10. FINALLY! Someone who has Korean coins on their coin blog! I like the information you've provided, too.
    Thanks Kulraj!

    I've uploaded my Korean coin collection up at Youtube. Just search for "Korean coins" at Youtube, and you'll see my collection as the top four results.

  11. hi kulraj can you tell me the value of 100won dated 1991 according to indian currency.

  12. i have 10 ( 1oo won ) coins...

  13. whats price of 500 won in pakistani rupees

  14. This is funny! I live in Korea and I probably have 100 of each of these coins in a change jar. The Korean won is usually somewhere around 1100-1200 won per US$1. This means that a 100 won coin is worth maybe 9 cents.

    What's even funnier is I saw a website just a few minutes ago where someone was selling an assortment of Korean coins that totaled about 650 won ($.50) for $10! Ha.

  15. Please note that market value of a coin is not as per face value but as per rarity.

  16. I don't know anything about coins but started to collect them for my son and look for details about them. Anyways my sons is a pinkish gold color and says its a 2003 500 coin. Its not worth anything is it? I bought it off an older man for a quarter. I guess his wife used to collect but passed away.

  17. i have south korean won 500 ....can i sell it upto 5000 inr

  18. I have a 100 won of south Korean of 1996. What is a prize . And in my coin where the woo is written is at up side and the opposite side of coin the photo is at downsite. I want to know this is good or the coin has has misprint?