World Coins

South Korea commemorates PyeongChang Olympics

The eyes of the world are watching South Korea where the 2018 Winter Olympic Games are unfolding through Feb. 25.

The 2018 Paralympic Games follow from March 8 to 18, also in South Korea.

Like all host nations since 1952, South Korea has issued a suite of commemorative coins to celebrate the events.

The coins were released in two batches, with the first series released in 2016 comprising one brass coin, eight silver coins and two gold coins. The second release, late in 2017, featured two brass coins, eight silver coins and two gold coins.


First series release

The most abundant coin in the program is the Proof brass (copper-zinc) 1,000-won coin released to celebrate several Winter Olympic sports. The coin, which shows on its obverse athletes performing in snowboard, figure skating, skeleton, luge, biathlon, ice hockey, and curling, has a mintage of 71,000 pieces.

The Proof coin weighs 26 grams and measures 40 millimeters in diameter.

The first series of coins also offers eight different silver 5,000-won coins, each celebrating a different sport on the “Ice-Speed” theme.

“The background geometric pattern symbolizing snow crystals represents the solidity of ‘Ice’ and the quickness of ‘speed,’ ” according to KOMSCO, the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corp., which created the coins. “The whole and partial poses of athletes are designed realistically to emphasize the dynamic nature of winter sports.”

The obverse of each coin shows an athlete or athletes engaged in the respective sport: short track speed skating, speed skating, curling, ice hockey, Alpine skiing, bobsleigh, luge, and biathlon.

The Proof .9999 fine silver coins weigh 15.55 grams and measure 33 millimeters in diameter.

The silver coins have a mintage limit of 25,000 per design.

Two Proof .999 fine gold coins complete the first series of Winter Olympic commemorative coins.

The 20,000-won coin depicts Alpensia Stadium and a ski jumping sequence. The coin weighs 15.55 grams and measures 28 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage limit of 15,000 pieces.

Alpensia Stadium is the main ski jump center for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and is a representative facility of the games. The ski jumping sequence is presented with latent image technology.

The other gold coin, denominated 30,000 won, offers a link between South Korean culture and sports, showing the traditional type of skiing in Gangwon Province known as “gorosoi ski.”

Gorosoi skiing, indigenous to Gangwon Province, is a mode of transport suitable for deep snowy mountain areas.

A gorosoi ski is usually combined with snowshoes called “seolphi” that resemble wide overshoes, making climbing snowy hills easier. A single stick used to steer the ski and could also be equipped with a spear and used in hunting wild boars and bears.

The 30,000-won coin weighs 31.1 grams, measures 35 millimeters in diameter, and has a mintage limit of 4,500 pieces.

Second series of coins

The second series of 2018 Olympic coins from Korea offers a pair of brass 1,000-won coins, each showing one of the mascots for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Soohorang, the official mascot for the Olympic Winter Games, was inspired by the symbolic animal of Korea, the white tiger.

Bandabi, the official mascot for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, appears on the other coin.

Bandabi takes its motif from the Asiatic black bear (in Korean “Ban-dal-ga-seum-gom,” meaning “the bear with a half-moon mark on the chest”)

Both 1,000-won coins weigh 26 grams, measure 40 millimeters in diameter and have mintage limits of 70,000 pieces each.

The other Paralympic-themed coin from Korea is a silver 5,000-won coin.

The coin depicts the six winter sports of PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, with para biathlon as the main design and para cross-country skiing, wheelchair curling, para snowboard, para ice hockey and para alpine skiing as background motifs.

As a follow-up sequence to the first set that introduced eight Winter Olympic sports, the second set silver coins represent the final seven Winter Olympic sports: figure skating, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, ski jumping, skeleton, snowboard, and Nordic combined.

Similar to the first set design identity, the coins present whole or partial poses of the athletes that were captured realistically to emphasize the dynamic nature of winter sports.

The background geometric pattern (symbolizing snow crystals) again represents the solidity of ice and the quickness of speed.

The Proof .9999 fine silver coins weigh 15.55 grams and measure 33 millimeters in diameter.

Two gold coins round out the second series of South Korea’s 2018 PyeongChang coins, and the overall program.

As with the first series, the Proof .999 fine gold 20,000-won coin depicts a site where the Games are being contested.

The coin shows Gangneung Ice Arena and Gyeongpo Lake, with images of athletes figure skating and engaged in short track speed skating shown through latent image technology.

The 20,000-won coin weighs 15.55 grams, measures 28 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 15,000 pieces.

The traditional winter play of Korea, jwibulnori, is the theme of the Proof .999 fine gold 30,000-won coin.

Jwibulnori is a traditional Korean winter festivity in which old rice straw is intentionally set afire in rice paddy fields, a tradition that prevents harmful insect infestation, and the ash becomes fertilizer. People enjoy the festivities around the time of “Jeongwol Daeboreum” (the day of the first full moon of lunar New Year), when “dalzip” (sheaf of straw) is burned and spinning torches are made for setting fires on the rice paddy fields.

The coin weighs 31.1 grams, measures 35 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 4,500 pieces.

An American distributor

In previous Olympiads, Asset Marketing offered the host nation’s Olympic coins, but the firm — owner of and ModernCoinMart — severed its relationship with the United States Olympic Committee in 2017.

APMEX, however, has taken on the 2018 Olympic coins.

A press time Feb. 14, the firm was offering the precious metal coins from the first series. The silver 5,000-won coins range in price from $99.99 to $149.99, depending on theme.

The gold 20,000-won coin retails for $1,695 and the gold 30,000-won coin’s price was $2,995.

There is no word yet when the second series of coins will become available, and whether the brass coins will be added to the APMEX offerings.

For more details, visit the firm’s website.

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