The Yen, Yuan and Won all share the same roots which were colloquial words for ‘Round’ that referenced the round silver dollar coins of the Spanish Empire.
Historically, Spain had dominated this part of the world and their currency had over time become commonly used in vast parts of eastern Asia.
The first formal Yen currency was established in Japan back in 1871. China followed suit in 1889 with its currency the Yuan and Korea established the Won in 1902.
Below we’ll take a look at the four current currencies which use a form of Yen as their name.
Chinese Yuan (CNY)
The current yuan was first introduced in 1948 and is also known as Renminbi which literally means ‘people’s currency.’
In 1955 the yuan was re-denominated, and a new yuan was introduced at a rate of 1 new yuan = 10,000 old yuan.
The yuan is subdivided into 10 subunits, called jiao, and each jiao is further subdivided into 10 fen. The yuan is issued by the People’s Bank of China, which is the the Central Bank of China.
Japanese Yen (JPY)
The origins of the Japanese Yen date back to the Meiji period when it formally replaced a complex system of coins and paper money in 1871. This makes it one of the world’s oldest continuously in use currencies.
Today, there are several coins in circulation: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 yen. Banknotes come in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yen.
The Yen is divided into 100 subunits, called sen, however, these are no longer in use.
Like China and its Yuan, Japan uses the symbol ¥ for the currency.
North Korean Won (KWD)
The North Korean Won has been in existence since the founding of the communist state in 1947.
Its name is based on the currency of unified Korea between 1902 and 1910. (In 1910, Japan invaded and replaced it with the Yen.)
It is currently subdivided into 100 chon.
It shares the ₩ symbol with the South Korean Won.
South Korean Won (KRW)
The current Won was introduced in the 1950s, however, the origins of the currency date back much earlier as mentioned above.
This is technically the second South Korean Won, the first was in place from 1945 to 1953.
The currency is currently pegged to the US Dollar and is subdivided into 100 jeon.