Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin on 100 won Coin

Admiral Yi Sun-sin, engraved on the 100 won, is considered as one of Korea’s greatest historical figures. He was a military general who brought victories in the Imjin War, a war against Japan, during the Joseon Dynasty. Despite his victories, officials of the royal court who were at odds with him arrested him for refusing to go to a disadvantageous battlefield. After many hardships, he has been reinstated in the Battle of Myengnyang. On this famous battle, he was outnumbered by 333 Japanese ships but managed to destroy 31 Japanese warships only with a single fleet of 13 ships. With the great victory of Myengnyang, He was able to turn the tide of the entire war against the Japanese. He is also known for designing the improved Geobukseon, turtle ship. In honor of his achievements, a huge statue of him was erected in Gwanghwamun in 1968.  

In 1958, Yi Sun-sin first appeared on Korea’s old fifty hwan bill with Geobukseon in the form of statue. Yi Sun-sin briefly disappeared from the bill in 1962 when the monetary unit changed to Won from Hwan due to the third emergency monetary measure. But he reappeared as himself on a 100 won coin in 1970. He also appeared on the 500 won note when Korea decided to issue new banknotes in 1973. Before the change, Yi Sun-sin’s Geobukseon was painted in black and white on the 500 won bill. This change was to prevent forgery of the 500 won bill, which was the most used at the time. Yi Sun-sin on today’s 100 won was published in 1983 and is in the form of a standard portrait. 

Although he died of gunshot wounds at the Battle of Noryang, with him being in the 100 won, he remains as one of the most familiar great historical figures to Koreans, keeping his place in people’s wallets.