Since the North-South split of Korea after World War II, North Korea issued its first coins in 1959 in the jeon (aka chon) unit. (1 won = 100 jeon.)
The next new coin was minted in 1978 — a 50 jeon piece, and in 1987, 1 won notes were replaced with a 1 won coin. All of these coins are aluminum.
Also made of aluminum are the last of the “second won” coins (the “first won” currency used banknotes only) — four new coins first appearing in 2005 (5 won, 10 won, 50 won, and 100 won). Rounding out the brief and simple history of North Korean coins are 1 jeon, 5 jeon, 10 jeon, 50 jeon, and a new 1 won (“third won”) coin, minted in 2002 and 2005 and released for circulation in 2009.
Of particular interest to North Korean coin collectors is the stars system of NK coins: coins for general use by the country’s citizens do not feature any stars, while coins expressly for use by visitors from socialist countries feature one star. Non-socialist country visitors use coins with two stars (though in practice, coins like the euro are generally favored).
Also of note are “specimen” coins, with no stars but intended for collectors. These, as well as occasional commemorative coins, are for collectors abroad, and are often particularly rare.