March 7 - Commemorative coins will be issued this week to honour figure skater Kim Yu-Na’s gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics last month, the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) have announced.

"We will issue commemorative coins to celebrate Kim’s gold medal and share the moment of joy," it said in announcing Korea’s first commemorative coin for an athlete.

The coins will come in gold (22.6 millimeters in diameter and 7.78 grams in weight) and one-ounce silver (40.6 millimeters in diameter and 31.1 grams in weight) varieties.

The head will contain an image of Kim’s free skating performance and signature, and the KOC's insignia.

The gold coin will sell for 880,000 won (£510) and the silver for 121,000 won (£70).

The commemorative coins have three unique traits.

First, they have been manufactured by the Perth Mint of Australia, not by the Korean mint, so also contain the head of British monarch Queen Elizabeth.

The coins are being circulated in Tuvalu, a a Polynesian island located in the Pacific Ocean and which has a population of only 12,000.

The face value of the coins is written in the Australian dollar, not in Korean won.

The gold coin has a value of $25 Australian (£15) and the silver one Australian dollar (£0.54).

The coins are being manufacturing in Australia and circulated in Tuvalu since Korea does not allow coins to be issued to commemorate a certain figure within its boundary.

Commemorative coins in Korea also cannot be sold higher than the face value.

"The Bank of Korea Act stipulates that coins minted by the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corp. cannot be sold to generate added value," said the KOC.

"Accordingly, we had no choice but to manufacture the coins overseas."

Hwadong, the company that sells the coins, said: "Since the coins are coloured, we needed to look for a partner with the latest technology.

"Accordingly, we signed a contract with the Perth Mint in Australia.

"The Perth Mint got direct approval from Tuvalu to circulate the coins there.

"It will get royalties or commissions.

"It is possible for the coins to be circulated in Tuvalu, but unlikely that a person with the commemorative coins will visit Tuvalu and use them.”

Hwadong has issued commemorative coins for the late President Kim Dae-Jung made in Norway and those for Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-Hwan manufactured in Liberia.

Profits from Kim's commemorative coins will partly be used to help fund sports in South Korea.

Related stories
February 2010:
Brilliant Kim victory captures imagination of the world
February 2010: Pyeongchang hopes Kim is licenced to thrill for 2018 bid
February 2010: White and Kim top Winter Olympic rich-list
January 2010: South Korean skater stands to earn $1 million bonus if she wins in Vancouver