Korea Imperial Coinage (3) - SCARCE Yr 501 1892 Silver 1 Yang

These series of post will primarily focus on the Machine Struck Coinage of Korea in her Joeson, Empire, and Protectorate Periods. 

Today's post is about a scarce Korean Silver 1 Yang struck during the Korean Empire Era. It was minted at the Inchon Mint.  

Quick Overview:

Country: Korea (Empire)
Date: 1892 (Undated) - 開国五百一年 aka Opening Year 501.  
Dynasty: Korean Empire      "대한제국 or 大韓帝國"
Region/Province: Korea
Composition: Silver
Catalog: Krause: KM 1112
*I personally love the dual dragon design of these Korean Empire Coins! Reminds me of Yin and Yang!* 

Historical Background

The Korean Empire was proclaimed in 1897 by the King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty. This was in light to the recent Qing Chinese defeat against the Japan during the First Sino Japanese War of 1894-1895. Historically, Korea has been a vassal state to the Chinese for many centuries. However, with Qing defeat and the resulting Treaty of Shimonoseki, Qing China relinquished its Korea as her vassal state. Seeing that, Korea declared itself a sovreign nation with the newly proclaimed King Gojong as the Emperor Kwangmu. He is the first emperor of this new empire! (For the rulers during the Korean Empire, refer to the post titled "A Short Primer on Korean Kings (And Emperors) and their coins!").

Moreover, the proclamation was due to the subsequent Donghak Peasant Revolt and the Gabo Reforms (Referring to the Sexagenary Year) that soon took place. The Korean Empire was a short lived one, and is widely underrated in modern history. The Korean Empire had diplomatic ties with many foreign nations, including the United States, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, Russia, France, and so on. 

For more information on the Korean Empire, visit:


and a short YouTube Video:



Korean Yangs were primarily struck only in the Korean Empire Era. They are scarce coins that were minted in 3 years. They are Year 501, 502, and Kwangmu Year 2. The Kwangmu Year 2, especially the Wide Spaced YANG variety is the rarest of them all. The Year 502, is the most common out of the three. 

In my current collection, I only have two- Year 501 and 502. I am currently wanting to collect the Kwangmu Year 2 coin in its two varieties! 

Coins of the Korean Empire did not have the Japanese Influence on coin design that is seen in the protectorate era coinage. Instead, coins of the Korean empire have a dual design and a currency system that is not similar to that of Japan. Moreover, the reverse design features the Korean Hibiscus Flower and the currency denomination, 1 Yang in Hanja (Chinese Characters), in the center. The overall design is simple, yet beautiful! 

(Note the Mix of English, Korean, and Hanja/Chinese Characters) 

Obverse: 朝鲜    開國五百一年     한냥     One Yang
Reverse: 一两

Condition: EF

Other Remarks:

The Korean 5 Yang, a silver dollar sized coin, is very rare! They feature the same design as the smaller  1 Yang. I currently do not have one in my collection! 

Mint Varieties - Dating Changes and Ring Sizes:

Dating Differences on the Legend
It is interesting to note the changes in the dating system from:

The 開國 XXX 年 or Opening Date XXX Years to 光武 X 年.

Let me translate this more detailedly before we go further. 

  1. 開國 XXX 年 means XXX years since the creation/founding of the Joseon Dynasty. This means we add XXX years to 1391. 
  2. 光武 X 年 means X years since the ascension of Emperor Kwangmu. This means we add X years to 1896. 

Originally, these 1/4 Yangs were minted during the Joseon Dynasty, which preceded the establishment of the Korean Empire in 1897. Thus, we must take this in note: the 光武 or Kwang Mu characters refers to King Gojong's imperial name, that is, when he became an Emperor of the Korean Empire. Thus, you can see that the 1st 1/4 Yang, made during the 元年 or 0 Year of Kwang Mu corresponds to 1897, which is the 1st year of the Korean Empire. 

Therefore, these varying legends makes collecting these 1/4 Yangs fun. It takes some time to understand the entire history of the Joseon Dynasty and relate it back to these little dragon coins! Some math involved! :-) 

Other Interesting Notes:

The three ways to call it. 
(A variety analysis)
On the coins from this series and other coins like the 1 Fun and 5 Fun coins, there are three ways that named KOREA. They are:

  1. Hanja: 大朝鮮  or Dae Cho Son
  2. Hanja: 朝鮮 or Cho Son
  3. Hanja: 大韓 or Dae Han

Really Rare Unissued Yang BANKNOTES. WOW!  
50 Yang - Treasury Department of the Kingdom of Korea (1893) 01.jpg

10 Yang - Treasury Department of the Kingdom of Korea (1893) 01.jpg

Additional Information:

Great Intro to Korean Numismatic History, in English:

The Korean Yang (and the currency system)
My other coins from the Korean Joseon, Empire, and Protectorate Eras