Old 5000 KPW notes featuring the portrait of Kim Il Sung are scheduled to remain in circulation until the end of this year, but their use among residents has drastically reduced due to a preference for the new notes.
The old 5000 KPW bill is the only remaining note that features Kim Il Sung’s portrait on it.
“The authorities have stopped printing the old 5000 KPW bill, so the remaining notes are mostly worn out or torn. For this reason, vendors are reluctant to accept them, fearing they might be punished for damaging a bill with the Suryong’s (Kim Il Sung) face on it,” a source in South Pyongan Province recently told Daily NK.
“The fact that the old notes will be pulled from circulation soon seems to have influenced people as well. The old notes are supposed to be swapped for new ones by the end of this year, so no one is keen to hang on to the old ones.”
From 2014, North Korea removed Kim Il Sung’s portrait from the new
5000 KPW note, the country’s highest denomination bill.
Image: Daily NK
Kim Jong Un removed the face of his grandfather Kim Il Sung from the 5000 KPW note in 2014, replacing it with a photo features an image of the house at Mangyongdae where official propaganda says the late leader was born. The portrait of Kim Il Sung has been removed from all new notes produced after the currency reform in 2009, including the 100 KPW, 1000 KPW, and 2000 KPW bills.
“There was a rumor that a 10,000 KPW note with Kim Il Sung’s portrait on it would be introduced, but it hasn’t materialized. People are saying that the Marshal (Kim Jong Un) has finally gotten out of the shadows of his grandfather by removing Kim Il Sung’s face from the bills,” said a source in Ryanggang Province.
She added that many residents are calling Kim Jong Un’s actions “clever,” noting that Kim Jong Un seems to be succeeding to some extent in building his image as a supreme leader who takes care of people’s needs.
“Residents used to find it difficult to use bills with the Suryong’s face on it, even though the note is not even worth one US dollar in the markets. So they are welcoming the new bills because they’re convenient,” she explained.
However, complaints about currency issues persist in general, not least because the value of the North Korean won has been in steady decline for years, but especially since the 2009 currency reform. Many also get confused with the bills due to frequent reforms and changes, which further fuels the preference for foreign currencies like the dollar and renminbi.