First Coins of Korea

23 May 2019  Thu

The minting of the first coins of Korea did not take place until the 15th year (996 AD) of the reign of King Songjong.

Korea did not begin to use the money until the Koryo Period. Earlier, coins from China’s Song Dynasty were actually imported and began to circulate. Prior to this time, barter based on rice and cloth was the principal means of exchange.

The first coin was cast in both bronze and iron and was based on the standard Chinese cash coin which was round with a square hole in the center. The bronze coins are much rarer than the iron coinage since iron was a cheaper metal. Most of these coins have been found in China’s northeast Dongbei region and in the northern part of the Korean peninsula.

The Korean coinage has the same Chinese character inscription (kon won Chung bo), like the coins that were cast during the reign of Emperor Su Zong of the Tang Dynasty. Two additional Chinese characters (tong guk), meaning “the country of the East”, were added to the reverse side of the coin to indicate that the coin was from Korea which is a country east of China.

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