Chosun Shinbo, the Chongryon (General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan) publication, made public images of the new bills and claimed that the “currency reform” is being done for the workers.
North Korean currency now features a 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 10 and 5 won bill, plus a 1 won coin, and a 50, 10, 5 and 1 jeon coin.
On the front of the 5,000 won bill there is Kim Il Sung’s portrait, with Mangyongdae, Kim Il Sung’s birth place on the back. On the front of the 2,000 won lies Kim Jong Il’s alleged birth place, a log cabin on Mt. Baekdu, and Jong Il Peak, which is located behind the cabin, and on the back side is the top of Mt. Baekdu. Kim Jong Suk’s birth place in Hoiryeong is on the front of the 1,000 won, and on the back a lake, Samji, where Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il had a famous photo taken.
The Triumphal Arch in Pyongyang is on the 500 won, the Chollima statue, also in Pyongyang, is on the 200 won, a peony flower, the North’s national flower, is on the 100 won.
The front of the 50 won bill features the triumvirate of an engineer, farmer and working intellectual, and on the back is the Monument to the Founding of the Chosun (North Korea) Workers' Party in Pyongyang. On the 10 won bill, there are the three branches of the military and the Victory Monument, also in Pyongyang.
The smallest bill, worth 5 won, shows a scientist and a student on the front and a hydroelectric dam on the back.
The head sides of the coins show the emblem of North Korea, whilst Kimjongilia, Kimilsungia or the national flower is carved on the tails.
On the bills of 50, 10, and 5 won and 1 won coin and 50 and 10 jeon coins, there is the issuing year, which happens to be “Juche 91, 2002.” Therefore, there is a high possibility that they were printed in 2002 when the July 1st Economic Management Reform Measures were adopted.
However, on bills worth 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 200 and 100 won and 1 jeon and 5 jeon coins, “Juche 97, 2008” was printed as the issuing year.
In fact, there have been rumors almost every year that a redenomination would be carried out, so there is the possibility that the authorities produced the new denominations in 2002 and have been waiting for the appropriate time to release them.
Indeed, in July, 2002, one of the key reasons why prices soared and the currency lost so much value was a rumored redenomination.
There is one more possibility: that North Korea wants to emphasize the year 2002 as the starting point of the “new economic management system.” In the future, were the North Korean economy to be stable, then the authorities would be able to imply that that stability was the result of the July 1st Economic Management Reform Measure.
Incidentally, a Daily NK source has reported that the largest bill, 5,000 won, has been issued as a commemorative note only.