Featured 42nd World Shooting Championships Commemorative Coins (1978)

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by mlov43, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가 Supporter

    The story behind the manufacture and release of these two South Korean commemorative coins is a roller coaster ride of tight deadlines and inadequacies at the South Korean Mint; all thrown in with a meddling big-shot friend of the president of the country. And if it had not been for a last-minute policy exception, the whole thing might not have happened at all. Such instability surrounding South Korea’s commemorative coin production was apparently the modal state of affairs in the late 1970s.

    The 42nd World Shooting Championships were the biggest international sporting event to have been hosted in South Korea before the 1988 Summer Olympics came 10 years later. The Chairman of the Shooting Championships, Pak Jong-gyu, was the former chief of presidential security in South Korea, and had helped President Park Chung-hee take power in the country's 1961 military coup d'etat. Riding on these coattails, Pak was able to intrude into the coin-design team's work on these coins.

    Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 9.34.26 PM.png
    Pak Jong-gyu

    The original 1976 proposal for a commemorative coin issue in 1978 was actually to mint coins celebrating the 30th anniversary of the foundation of South Korea's government. However, Pak insisted that the Mint focus on creating a pair of Shooting Championships coins instead, and that they be ready for release before June 1978 in order not to disrupt a proposed distribution and marketing schedule for such coins. He got his way: The Foundation Anniversary coins were eventually cancelled.

    What followed, from March to July 1977, were five months of tedious back-and-forth consultations with Chairman Pak over the coin designs as the Bank of Korea and the Korean Mint got bogged down attempting to satisfy Chairman Pak’s desires concerning the coins’ appearance down to the tiniest detail. Having a micromanaging third party inserting itself between the Korean Mint team and the Bank of Korea was an unusual and frustrating experience that required an extra effort on the part of the Mint workers involved. Despite this difficulty, the Mint's design team finalized work on two designs that ultimately met with Pak’s approval.

    Pak wasn't the only problem.

    One complication in the late 1970s was the Korean Mint’s ongoing workforce deficiencies at its mint facility in the city of Gyeongsan. Although the Mint had recently worked hard to train its staff in the special processes involved in producing master hubs and dies for coin-striking operations, it was still experiencing an acute shortage of trained and experienced artists and technicians involved in creating relief sculpture engravings and galvano castings for use on the reducing lathes.
    500 Won cupronickel commemorative

    Under intense pressure to have the master dies completed according to schedule, and with the start of the engraving process not exactly inspiring confidence, the chief of the Korean Mint opted for a risky “Plan B.” Without informing it's governing authority, the Bank of Korea, the Korean Mint independently entered into an secret contract on November 16, 1977 for the manufacture of the master dies at the Japan Mint. As might have been expected, this “secret” contract’s cover was blown when the bill for this contracted work showed up on the Bank of Korea’s expense ledger just a month later(!) And here's the kicker: The Korean Mint just ended up choosing, and using, the master dies that its own workers toiled away at making during this time!

    Yet another kerfuffle came up concerning the wording of the legends on the coins.

    It had to do with a rule outlined in South Korea’s central banking law. Policies under the Bank of Korea Law for issuing new coins and bills (Article III, Section 2) include the requirement that the legend, “Bank of Korea” in hangul, “한국은행 (han kook eun haeng),” be included on all South Korean banknotes and coins. Probably at Pak Jong-gyu's insistence, the legends on these coins only stated "Republic of Korea" in English and Korean. The legally-inconsistent wording as designed on the coins had shaped up to be a major complication, especially since this problem was left unresolved right up to the beginning of the minting operations.

    Previously, the designs included both "Republic of Korea" and the legal wording, "Bank of Korea" (top). Only the 42nd World Shooting Championships coins display the legends, "Republic of Korea" in English and Korean.

    A legal exception made just for these coins was shoved through at the last minute. The very next day after granting this exception to the country's central banking law, the Mint started striking the coins.

    This commemorative issue, when it was finally set for release, turned out to be the most popular commemorative coin ever issued in South Korea. Never before or since in South Korea has the issue of a coin caused as much of a sensation as the silver coin of this series did when it was first sold out of the main Bank of Korea branch building in Seoul.

    At exactly 4 a.m. in the morning of the Bank of Korea’s 30th anniversary, Monday, June 12, 1978, numbers of people rushed to the Bank of Korea building from various corners of the surrounding neighborhood. They ran to queue up outside the front doors, released by the lifting of the citywide curfew (one that was enforced from midnight to 4 a.m. nightly in South Korean cities and coastal areas from September 1946 to January 1982). The crowd had flocked to purchase one of the six thousand 5,000 Won silver coins that were to be sold from the Bank building that day. The Bank’s remaining allotment of 12,000 silver coins, to be released the following day, were expected to attract an even larger crowd.

    What would explain the public’s newfound interest in a commemorative coin when people showed almost no interest in the country's first commemorative coin released three years before? As South Korea placed severe restrictions on precious metals imports, the coin’s silver content probably had something to do with it, and that fact probably played into another phenomenon that was taking place at the time.
    5,000 Won silver commemorative

    In 1978, many Koreans were benefitting from an improved economy, and some households were flush with cash from massive remittances sent home by Korean construction workers in Persian Gulf states, which had contracted Korean businesses to develop their infrastructure. Back in Korea, severe legal restrictions did not allow people many choices for investing any of this new money. Hard assets, such as land, were almost the only options. Indeed, the latter part of the 1970s was characterized by a real estate boom south of the Han River in Seoul in which farmers were becoming millionaires overnight by selling their once-inexpensive farmland to developers.

    The environment was ripe for the country to experience a “speculation craze.” Real estate was not the only area where this speculation fever existed. Precious metals were another. The coins became an instant magnet for investors when reports surfaced on June 12th about those lucky few who had purchased one of the new silver coins and then quickly sold it within minutes for a hefty profit.

    So when the 4 a.m. curfew lifted the following morning, all hell broke loose at the Bank of Korea.

    The Chosun Ilbo reported that pandemonium ensued when upwards of 20,000 people showed up in the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 13th in front of the Bank of Korea building. Pushing and shoving resulted in 20 people being injured even before the doors opened. Maintaining order in the situation was impossible, and the planned release of the remaining silver coins for that day was cancelled.

    The coins were eventually issued via computer-based lottery, with sale offers given to savings account holders at various banks in Seoul. The remaining coins were issued in this fashion.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2017
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  3. rooman9

    rooman9 Lovin Shiny Things

    Nice write up. What's the picture of the horse and rider? Genghis Khan? ;)
  4. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray Biblical Kingdoms Supporter

    Excellent article, mlov43!
    I know what it's like designing commemorative awards and getting them approved before they can go into production. I designed awards for the Federal Government for 21 years.
  5. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가 Supporter

    The image on the 5,000 Won silver commemorative coin was derived from a tomb mural depicting a hunting scene that was painted on the wall of a mid-4th century burial chamber that's located near Ji'an city in China's Jilin province, immediately next to its present-day border with North Korea. The image comes from a tomb known as the "Dancers Tomb" (in Korean: muyong), and is therefore referred to as the the Muyong mounted archer. The hunting scene from which this image derives is regarded as a masterpiece, and is one of the few remnants that give insights into the culture of the ancient Korean/northeast-Chinese Goguryeo dynasty.
  6. rooman9

    rooman9 Lovin Shiny Things

    Thank you for the information. Really interesting.
    mlov43 likes this.
  7. coinsareus10

    coinsareus10 Active Member

    Interesting read! Thanks.
    mlov43 likes this.
  8. SavageFountain

    SavageFountain Active Member

    Cool read but you gotta stop posting all the neat Korean stuff it makes me want to buy it all. Lol
    mlov43 likes this.
  9. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가 Supporter

    I can certainly relate to THAT problem...
  10. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    Thanks for the thread.

    Is the 500 won really as common as its price would suggest.

    Did these circulate at all?
  11. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가 Supporter

    Is it "common?" I really have no idea just how many survivors there are out there, and in what condition, of course.

    What I know is what I see online and what their prices are, and how often I come upon them in the coin shops in Seoul when I visit every-other-year. The mint strikes seem quite common, and in practically every shop in the little cluster of tiny coin shops in the Hoehyeon Underground Arcade near the old Bank of Korea building. The unfrosted proofs are obtainable in Korea, usually at the better coin shops (sujipbank), and the unfrosted proofs come up once every five years or so, usually in one of those velvet-lined two-coin presentation set boxes along with a frosted proof 5,000 Won coin. If you click on the link in my signature, you'll see more info on these coins. It is common for these bigger coin shops to have an unopened-from-1978 mint bag of the regular mint strikes for sale. For Korean coins, that usually is an indicator that sizable numbers of such coins just laid around in the vaults for decades.

    There is a HUGE coin-collecting boom in South Korea, currently. Untold numbers of people have been exposed to the key date S. Korean pieces through the mimetic nature of the South Korean media's myriad TV shows and talk-radio shows in the last two years that highlighted "rare Korean coins" or "rare coins in your change," with many of the proprietors of the shops that I visit getting interviewed again and again. This is national news, mind you! My youtube videos are getting massive views after years of getting 1 or 2 views a week(!), all from viewers in Korea. Prices for the key mint sets (1998) and other key dates (1970 Bronze 10 Won) are going through the roof... It's really an interesting thing to see...
    chrisild and MerlinAurelius like this.
  12. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    Thanks for all the info.

    Modern coins are underappreciated everywhere but maybe I'll have to be crossing South Korea and India off the list in the next few years.

    It's a shame I couldn't find a lot more Korean coins over the years but I always picked them up when I saw them and got a few. ...None of the scarcities though.
  13. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    I love the ancient image from the Dancer's Tomb on a modern coin. It's very faithfully rendered.
  14. iPen

    iPen Well-Known Member

    Nice informative write-up, thanks. I have the frosty version of the 5000 Won horse rider - it's got both a massive cartwheel and a mirror to it. So based on your other thread, I'm not entirely sure which one it is either lol.

    And that contortionist form though...

  15. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가 Supporter

    I'm pretty sure your coin is the frosted proof variety of 20K mintage, if it's mirror and had frosted devices. The catalogs have definitely messed up that coin's description. Nice coin to own, though!
  16. iceberg

    iceberg New Member

    Great write up. I was stationed in Korea in 1978 and again in 1980 and brought some coins and currency home, All but one of the paper currency was lost in a move, it is a 1964 10 won bill. I'll have to look through my coins and see what ones I have. I do know I have some of the 1 won coins dated 1966 & 1967, most of the coins I have are probably from the 60's and 70's, even the old game room token is probably from the 70's. Maybe I have a few of the Bronze 10 won.. Thanks again for the great article, and I'll certainly check out your web article..
  17. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가 Supporter

    Thanks for your kind words... and thanks for sharing what you have. Find 'em and post your S. Korean coins here at the World Coins forum!
  18. iceberg

    iceberg New Member

    Just as soon as I am able.
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