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13 April 2018

17 March 2018

North Korea - 5000 Won 2017 Commemorative Kim Jong-Suk

Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

This is a commemorative collector note of 5000 won issued in 2017 commemorating the 100th Birthday Anniversary of the late Kim Jong-Suk (김정숙/金正淑) who died in 1949. Kim Jong-Suk was the first wife of Kim Il-Sung (1912-1994) who ruled North Korea from 1948 to until his death in 1994. Based on this new issue, it would have suggested that Kim Jong-Suk was born in circa 1917. However various searches on the Internet have suggested that she may have been born in 1919. Most people would have agreed that she died when she was in her late 20s, however the circumstances as to how she died was not clear.

Is this a collector series note printed with 7 zeros but without the usual words "견본" (sample/specimen) printed across? It is not clear if any normal serial numbered notes have been issued for circulation. More importantly, are these notes legit or just a novelty printed for whatever celebration they wanted it to be? If this is the case, who printed them? There must be a simple explanation why these notes are all printed with zeros. The design of this note is the same as the one that first issued in 2014 (P67 dated 2013) except that the following commemorative texts are printed on the watermark area - 항일의녀성영웅김정숙동지탄생100돐기념 (basically translated as; The heroine of anti-Japanese, heroine Kim Jong-Suk's 100th birthday).

Five Thousand Won
Dated 2013 (2017), ㄱㄷ Prefix
Five Thousand Won
Dated 2013 (2017), ㄱㅌ Prefix

26 January 2018

Hong Kong Bank of China HK - 2017 $100 Centenary Commemorative 1917-2017

中 國 銀 行 (香 港) 有 限 公 司
Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited (BoCHK)

HK$100 commemorative banknote issued on 20.12.2017, celebrating the bank’s 100th year of service in Hong Kong. This note is printed with the date 24.09.2017.

*Front: The design of this Commemorative note features the BoC Tower in Hong Kong, which is also an iconic landmark in Hong Kong, the old BoCHK branch, the image of the Great Wall of China, and the BoC HQ in Beijing. The design also features the Chinese famous ancient building pillar joint/support which has been proven for thousand of years in withstanding earthquakes no matter how strong it was. These ancient pillar joints were built without any nails or screws (assembled like a jigsaw puzzle) and still can be seen in many famous old buildings around China today. The note is also printed with the Commemorative tests in Chinese "中國銀行在港服務壹佰週年" (Bank of China 100th Year of Service in Hong Kong).
*Back: Victoria harbour showing on both sides viewing from Victoria Peak with the Bank of China Tower clearly standing out from the view. Where is Two International Financial Center tower? Image of the bank's logo and surrounded by 11 smaller logos of it's subsidiaries are also added to the design to the note. Image of newspaper advertisement of the bank first opening for business in Hong Kong.

Signature: Chief Executive Yue Yi (appointed since 06.03.2015)

A total of 5 million notes printed and issued in 3 formats; -
Single folder set – 2.90M at HK288 per set;
3-in-One uncut sheet = 300,000 sets at HK$988 per set; and
30-in-One = 40,000 sets at HK$13,888.
Total sets issued = 3.24M
Prefixes issued Single: None, AA, AB, BC, HK & HY
Prefixes issued 3-in-One: None, AA, AB, BC, HK & HY

The above were opened for pre-order between 28.09.2017 to 18.10.2017. Unfortunately, like all previous banks commemorative banknotes issued in Hong Kong, the offer was only applicable to those who are residing in Hong Kong. Successful buyers were announced on 01.11.2017 with payment due by 21.11.2017. The note is then available for collection between 20.12.2017 to 31.12.2017.

In addition from the above, 388 sets (single, 3-in-1 & 30-in-1) with special or lucky numbers were sold via public auction. The bidding period was opened between 20.10.2017 to 08.11.2017. The minimum bid price ranging from HK$5,000 (single note) to HK$60,000 per set (30-in-1 uncut sheet).

-Single note Gold Premium Edition (45 sets) $10,000;
-Single note Silver Premium Edition (90 sets) $8,000;
-Single note Bronze Premium Edition (114 sets) $5,000;
-3-in-1 uncut sheet Platinum Deluxe Edition (25 sets) $30,000;
-3-in-1 uncut sheet Pearl Deluxe Edition (75 sets) $20,000;
-30-in-1 uncut sheet Diamond Deluxe Edition (19 sets) $60,000; and
-30-in-1 uncut sheet Jade Deluxe Edition (20 sets) $50,00.

BOC donated all the net proceeds from the above sales to various charity organisations in Hong Kong.

One Hundred Dollars
No Prefix
AA Prefix
AB Prefix
BC Prefix
HK Prefix
HY Prefix
The Bank of China first set up their first sub-branch in Hong Kong on 24.09.1917 with less than 10 employees. In 2001, the BoCHK was formed following the merger of 9 other banks namely, The Kwangtung Provisional Bank (1905*?), Sin Hua Bank Limited (1947), The China & South Sea Bank Limited (1934), Kincheng Banking Corporation (1917*?), The China State Bank Limited (1938), The National Commercial Bank Limited (1946), The Yien Yieh Commercial Bank Limited (1915*?), Hua Chiao Commercial Bank Limited (1962) and Po Sang Bank Limited (1949). The merger was approved by the Hong Kong Legislative Council. Today BoCHK it is the second largest commercial bank (after HSBC) in Hong Kong, employing more than 12,000+ staffs looking after more than 300 branches all over Hong Kong.

* (?) - Year originally established in China. I have no info as to when were these banks first commenced trading in Hong Kong.

In case you are wondering, here are the top 10 banks in Hong Kong (2016 ranking);

HongKong & Shanghai Banking Corporation - Est.1865;
Bank of China (Hong Kong) - Est.1917;
Hang Seng Bank - Est.1933;
Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong - Est.1859;
The Bank of East Asia - Est.1918;
Industrial & Commercial Bank of China - Est.2005;
DBS Hong Kong - Est.1999;
Wing Hang Bank - Est.1937;
Nangyang Commercial Bank - Est.1949;
Citic Bank International - Est.1989.


i) The notes were all sold at a premium as mentioned above. Unlike some of the previous issues, many of these notes are available in the market selling less than the issued prices. One of the reasons is that collectors in Hong Kong and China, and to some extent, including few other South East Asian countries, dislike collecting banknotes with serial number containing the digits of 4s and 7s. This is more of superstitious than any other reasons. To the Cantonese in Hong Kong, the #4 is sounded like death and the #7 is sounded like a male private part. Price guide printed in China also detailed price differences with the Chinese notes. This is sometime hard to avoid as in every 10 notes, there is a 4 and a 7. You will also find that a solid 4s is usually fetch a lower premium than any other solid notes. The other reason is that this is a rather large issue and too many available in the market. More importantly, I believe this issue was not as successful as those previously issued. Those who bought them thinking of making a quick profit finding themselves holding the notes with weak demand and as such cashing them in to cut their losses. Whether the issue price has any impact on this, I am not sure but then this is the fifth commemorative note issued in the territory and perhaps collectors may find the novelty fated out by now.

01 January 2018

South Korea - 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games Commemorative

The Bank of Korea

This is the first commemorative banknote ever issued by The Bank of Korea. This is also the first time the Bank of Korea has issued a banknote with the denomination of 2000 Won (number 2), as the bank traditionally issued banknotes in the value of 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10,000, 50000 Won etc.

This 2000 Won (이천원) commemorative note was supposed to release on 17.11.2017 but delayed until 11.12.2017. This note celebrates the 2018 PyeongChang XXIII Winter Olympic Games (from 09.02.2018 to 25.02.2018). The hosting right was awarded to PyeongChang on 06.07.2011 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Durban, South Africa. PyeongChang won the rights by beating two other candidates, namely Munich (Germany) and Annecy (France). This is the third time PyeongChang (평창군) bidded for the Winter games, having previously lost to Vancouver (Canada 2010) and Sochi (Russia 2014). After South Korea, China will host the next Winter Olympic games in Beijing in 2022. It should also be noted that this is the second Olympic Games to be held in South Korea. The first was the Summer games in Seoul in 1988.

This is the second legal tender Winter Olympics banknote ever issued and the fifth banknote issued to celebrate the Olympic games (both Winter and Summer).

The note is predominately printed in black and white. I suppose this is appropriate given that it's all about the Winter games, snow and cold!

Watermark: PyeongChang Olympic Stadium;
Letter Prefix/Suffix: AA 0000000 A & AA 0000000 B;

Security features include: Windowed Security Thread, Hologram (snowflake image), Watermark, Intaglio printing, Intaglio Latent Image, Tactile Marks for Vision-Impaired, Novel Numbering, Colour-Shifting Ink for the 2000 Won value & Micro Lettering.
Manufacturer: Korea Minting Security Printing & ID Card Operating Corp.

Like all South Korea banknotes previously issued in the past, the note bears the bank governor's (총재) seal on the front of the note and the seal reads as 한국은행총재 (Governor of the Bank of Korea).  

The note is measured 140mm x 75mm. A total of 2.8 million pieces have been printed and issued in 3 formats - single, 2-in-1 uncut and 24-in-1 uncut sheets. All notes were issued in a simple folder and all were sold with a premium above the face value: -

Single 2000 Won note (920,000 sets in folder) = 8,000 Won
2 uncut sheet (210,000 sets in folder) = 15,000 Won
24 uncut sheet (40,000 sets in tube) = 168,000 Won

The purchase order for this issue was opened between 11.09.2017 to 29.09.2017 and was made available at Kookmin Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea, Nonghyup Bank, Suhyup Bank, Shinhan Bank, Wooribank, Korea Post, Kyongnam Bank, Daegu Bank, Busan Bank and Poongsan-Hwadong

Given that the notes are sold with a premium, it is very unlikely that you will ever see this note in general circulation. It has also been reported that the PyeongChang Organizing Committee bought the banknotes in bulk and resold them to domestic and overseas collectors.

This is the 6th Olympic Games banknote issued to celebrate the games (both Winter and Summer) since 2008 (2008 - China, Hong Kong Bank of China, Macau Bank of China; 2014 - Russia; and 2016 - Fiji). Despite so many coins have been issued, it is surprising to see so few banknotes have been issued to commemorate the Olympic Games.

Two Thousand Won
Dated 2018, Prefix AA-A, Seven sports of speed skating (short track speed skating is a strong event for the South Koreans), ice hockey, curling, biathlon, ski jumping, luge and bob sleigh. The main feature is speed skating, with mountainous view of Gangwon Province in the background. PyeongChang is one of the 11 counties situated in the Gangwon province and it's approximately 180 km east of Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
 Two Thousand Won
Dated 2018, Prefix AA-B
Reverse - painting of a "Tiger Under A Pine Tree," by Kim Hong-do, a renowned artist from the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), who went by the pen name "Danwon". Tiger is the mascot of the PyeongChang games and this could be the reason they have selected this painting for the design.
2000 Won, 2-in-1 Uncut Sheet
Dated 2018, 2-in-1 Uncut

It was reported that the entire issue was sold out shortly after it was opened for pre-order.

Whilst many South Korean citizens and collectors around the world would be happy to see such a commemorative note issued to celebrate this special occasion, many locals were not that happy when the central bank first released the design of this banknote.

Below are some of the negative remarks reported by a local newspaper about the final design;
*Childish and substandard design;
*More like a North Korean banknote;
*Like a high school winner project;
*Why was the image of the tiger included?;
*Poor and embarrassing;

As a collector, I can tell you that no matter how you have designed a banknote, you can never satisfied everyone. I have seen a lot of those so called annual award winning design of banknotes around the world and I can tell you that opinion is very subjective and I would not have selected those winning notes either. Whilst this South Korean Olympic note may not be perfect, I do not believe it deserved those negative responses. However I do agreed that the reverse side of the note can do a little bit better. In case you are not aware of this, the Tiger is the Mascot of the game. Perhaps they should have made the tiger image smaller with a less scary one. Why picked such an angry and threatened/defensive tiger image for the design? Is this not a friendly games anymore? The games main venue should be added to the back of the note, after all, this note is all about the Winter games.

I personally have no issue with this note. At least the note is not crowed with security features or many other unnecessary designs or images. It is good to see that this note was not printed on Polymer or Hybrid materials. It is not necessary to prolong the life span of this note as it will never get circulated like those normal banknotes issued. Provided you store this note in a dry and cool environment, it will last forever.