Author Topic: North Korea: Tourist Coins  (Read 1726 times)

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Offline <k>

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North Korea: Tourist Coins
« on: October 18, 2015, 01:15:20 PM »
From Wikipedia:

Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910. After the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II in 1945, Korea was divided into two zones by the United States and the Soviet Union, with the north occupied by the Soviets and the south by the Americans. Negotiations on reunification failed, and in 1948 two separate governments were formed: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north, and the Republic of Korea in the south. An invasion initiated by North Korea led to the Korean War (1950–53). Although the Korean Armistice Agreement brought about a ceasefire, no official peace treaty was ever signed. Both states were accepted into the United Nations in 1991.

Offline <k>

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Re: North Korea: Tourist Coins
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2015, 01:17:17 PM »
In 1959 North Korea issued this set of coins for its citizens.

Offline <k>

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Re: North Korea: Tourist Coins
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2015, 01:19:14 PM »
North Korea also issued an identical set, except that the designs had a single star to the left of the denomination. Apparently these were intended for use by visitors from fellow "socialist" states, meaning other Communist countries.

Offline <k>

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Re: North Korea: Tourist Coins
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2015, 01:20:37 PM »
Yet another set had two stars: one star at either side of the denomination. These coins were reserved for use by tourists from the West.

Offline <k>

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Re: North Korea: Tourist Coins
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2015, 01:25:31 PM »
In modern symbolism, a five-pointed star is associated with communism. It is therefore curious that the set for North Korea's own citizens did not include a star, and that the set for the West showed TWO stars on each coin.

Apart from communism, a star is sometimes awarded for achievement. North Korea was less developed than most other communist countries, therefore it was not awarded a star. The West was most highly developed, so got two stars. I am being sarcastic, of course. If the North Koreans had ever noticed such symbolism on these coins, then the designer would have been executed!

In the 1980s, Communist Cuba also issued three different sets: one for use by its citizens; one for tourists from Communist states; and one for Western tourists. Did any other Communist state have a similar system at any time?

Offline Figleaf

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Re: North Korea: Tourist Coins
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2015, 03:41:07 PM »
Did any other Communist state have a similar system at any time?

All of them did, but not all of them issued separate money. North Korea and Cuba went farthest with a separate money alongside regular coins and notes. China issued tourist banknotes for a while, but no tourist coins. I used the tourist notes in the late seventies. The Soviet Union issued convertible currency vouchers, much in demand among the nomenklatura. All communist states used a complicated system of a mix of limited convertibility (you can buy the local currency but you can't change it back again), special tourist shops ("friendship stores" in China, GUM in the Soviet Union) and tolerating black currency markets.

The reason for these desperate attempts to isolate the domestic economy was that communist dogma ordained that all prices be established by the government. The result was a hopeless mess of crazy surpluses and deficits. If they had not been isolated from the world economy, these would have led to unsustainable trade flows and a trade deficits, they would have undermined the pricing "system" and ultimately the credibility of the communist party as the ruling force.

As for the symbolism of stars, most are just dots with spikes for the numerically challenged. That's probably also how they are used on North Korean tourist coins.

Peter
« Last Edit: October 18, 2015, 05:03:20 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline <k>

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Re: North Korea: Tourist Coins
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2015, 03:52:04 PM »
Thank you, Figleaf. So apart from Cuba and North Korea, there is nothing to show - coin-wise.