Olympics South Korea 1988

Seoul Korea Olympic gold coins were introduced to commemorate the XXIV Olympic games that were held in Seoul in 1988. The series consists of four unique designs all with a gold purity of .925 and a weight of ½ oz. The names of the four coins include:

  • Folk Dancing

  • Fan Dancing

  • Korean Seesaw

  • Kite Flying

The series was introduced between 1986-1988 and features 5 coin releases. The Kite Flying coin was the only design to be issued in both 1987 and 1988. The other three designs all have just one issue date. What’s interesting is that the coin motifs highlight South Korean cultural themes instead of profiling the Olympic games. Each one of the four coins in the series features a different design. However, the reverse side of the coins all depict the coat of arms of South Korea.

These coins are beautifully designed and celebrate South Korea and the Olympic games. The Seoul Korea Olympic gold coins are available in both bullion and proof editions. The product specifications of all the coins in the series are the same.

Product Specifications

Weight: 15.55 g

Diameter: 27 mm

Purity: .925/1000

Nominal Value: 25000 Won

1988 Seoul ½ oz Gold Olympics Coin - Korean Seesaw

Just as its name would suggest the Korea Seesaw Olympic gold coin depicts a seesaw, balanced by three Koreans girls with one girl in the center and one girl to either side. Korean seesaw, also called neolttwigi, is a traditional Korean game that is played by women and girls, usually during the holidays. In the Joseon dynasty, it was said that the Yangban women invented seesaw as a way to see over the walls of their homes, as women were not allowed to leave their domicile except at night.

The Olympic logo appears above the seesaw. The lettering around the outer edge reads “XXIV OLYMPIAD SEOUL 1988” and the nominal value of “25000 WON”.

The reverse side of the coin depicts the coat of arms of South Korea. Below the coat of arms is a floral design depicted in a semi-circle. The date of issue also appears at the bottom of the coin. The background on both sides of the coin is smooth. The edge bar is slightly raised which protects the motif from damage.

1988 Seoul ½ oz Gold Olympics Coin - Folk Dancing

The Folk Dancing design depicts a group of 5 Korean musicians playing music and dancing. The musicians appear in a joyous celebration, with the drum as the predominant instrument. One of the musician holds a flag with Korean lettering. Dance in Korean has a 5,000 year history that began with shamanistic rituals. Folk dance is one on many traditional Korean dances. Props are often used that include drums, hats, swords and white silk scarfs.

Surrounding the outer edge are the words “XXIV OLYMPIAD SEOUL 1988”. Below the musicians is the nominal value of “25000 WON”. The Olympic logo also appears in the top left part of the coin.

The reverse side depicts the coat of arms of Korea. Below the coat of arms is a floral display. The official issue date appears below the motif. The background on both sides of the coin has a smooth finish. Similar to the other editions, the edge bar is slightly raised which protects the coins surface.

1988 Seoul ½ oz Olympic Gold Coin - Kite Flying

The Kite Flying design was the only coin in the series to be issued in both 1987 and 1988. The other 3 coins in the series all had just one issue date. The motif side of the coin depicts two Korean children playing and flying a kite. The history of kites in Korea dates back to 637 A.D. The most common time to fly a kite in Korea is in the winter. As a ritual, on the day of the first full lunar moon of the year, kite flyers take to the skies and launch their kites.

The inscriptions around the top outer edge are the same as the other editions and read “XXIV OLYMPIAD SEOUL 1988”. The nominal value of “25000 WON” is imprinted below the motif. The reverse side of the coin profiles the same design as the other coins in the series.

1988 Seoul ½ oz Olympic Gold Coin - Fan Dancing

The motif side of the coin depicts three Korean women in flowing dresses performing the fan dance. The Korean fan dance was first developed in the Joseon Dynasty in the late 12th century, The dance has become one of the most popular in Asia. The intricate movements along with the beautiful costumes is recognized as an art form in Korea.

The lettering around the top outer edge reads “XXIV OLYMPIAD SEOUL 1988” The nominal value of “25000 WON” is imprinted on the bottom outer edge. The reverse side of the coins features the same design as the other editions in the series.

History of South Korea

In the early part of 20th century, Japan, Russia and China all fought for control of the Korean peninsula. Japan ended up victorious, occupying Korea in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. During its rule over Korea, Japan attempted to impose its culture and language upon the Korean people. In world War II many Korean men were forced to serve Japan, either in the army or by working in war time Japanese factories.

When Japan was defeated in World War II, Korea was divided into two regions. A Pro-US Republic of Korea was set up in the south peninsula, established in Seoul. The North was supported by the Soviet Union where a communist regime was created under Kim II Sung.

Korean War

In the Korean War from 1950-1953, North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and China invaded the South in an attempt to control all of Korea. South Korea was aided by the United States and the United Nations. After 2 million casualties, the war ended in 1953 and left Korea just as divided as before the war. A demilitarized zone was created that separated the two peninsulas and ran along latitude 38 degrees North.

With the continued backing of the United States, South Korea enjoyed a period of economic and industrial expansion in the 1960’s and 70’s. During this time period South Korea achieved a per capita income that was 17 times that of North Korea.

However in 1979, South Korea’s leader was assassinated and the country would enter a period of military rule. By 1987, a revised constitution instituted direct elections for the first time. Former army general, Roh Tae-woo, was elected president in the countries first free presidential election.

Olympic Games- 1988 & 2018

The South Korean reforms came just in time for the country to host the Summer Olympic games in Seoul, which was a huge success for South Korea.

South Korea today is one one of the most successful economies in East Asia, trailing only China and Japan. Seoul is the capital city of South Korea and has a population in the metro area of over 25 million people. This comprises about fifty-percent of the population of South Korea.  

The success of South Korea was recently showcased when the country hosted the 2018 winter Olympics.

Understanding the Gold Market

The price of South Korean gold coins is made up of the gold price, also referred to as the “spot price” and the premium. The spot price for gold changes minute by minute and is set by the global markets. The listed spot price is the price for one troy ounce of gold.

The premium is the cost and margin of the mint and bullion dealer. For commemorative gold coins like the Seoul XXIV Olympic gold coins there can be other factors that influence the premium.

  • The South Korea Olympic gold coins were minted in both proof and bullion editions. Some of the proof editions were minted in higher quantities than the bullion edition. Although the proof edition will carry a higher premium, they may be more available than the bullion editions.

  • Supply and demand can play a major role in the premium. When gold or a gold coin series is in high demand than the premium will also be higher.

  • Because the South Korea Olympic gold coins commemorate a special historical event, the premium will be higher when compared to regular issue bullion coins.

Regardless of which type of bullion product you choose, investors today look at gold as a hedge against economic and geopolitical uncertainty. For thousands of years gold has been one of the best forms of wealth protection and preservation.


In Germany, investment gold coins are exempt from VAT regulated in § 25c UStG. The following criteria make Seoul XXIV Olympic gold coins investment gold.

  • The gold coin must have been stamped after 1800.

  • It must be or have been an official means of payment in the country of production.

  • It must have a fine gold content of at least 900/1000.

  • The gold coin may not exceed the open market value by more than 80%

Product Details

Country of origin: South Korea
Series Name: South Korea XXIV Olympic Gold Coins
Purity: .925/1000
Weight: ½ oz
Scratch resistance: Poor


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