Won became the currency of North Korea on December 06, 1947 replacing Korean yen that is still in circulation. North Korean won are intended exclusively for North Korean citizens and Bank of Trade issued a separate currency (foreign exchange certificates) for visitors like many other socialist states. However, North Korea made two varieties of foreign exchange certificates, one for visitors from “socialist countries” which were colored red and other for visitors from “capitalist countries” which were colored blue/green.

Since 2001, North Korean Government has abandoned iconic rate of 2.16 won to Dollar and banks in country now issue at rates closer to black market rate. A more recent official rate has shown North Korean won to be 142.45 to the Dollar. However, rampant inflation has been eroding North Korean won’s value to such an extent that currently it is believed to be worth about the same as South Korean won. A report by defectors from North Korea claimed that black market rate was 570 to Chinese yuan in June 2009. In any case, US Dollar and other currencies are still worth more in North Korean won on black market than officially.

Won was revalued again in November 2009 for the first time in 50 years. North Koreans were given seven days to exchange a maximum of â‚©100,000 (worth approximately US$40 on black market) in â‚©1,000 notes for â‚©10 notes but after protests by some of populace, the limit was raised to â‚©150,000 in cash and â‚©300,000 in bank savings. Revaluation seen as a move against private market activity will wipe out many North Koreans’ savings.