On October 12, 2012, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives which seeks to authorize the minting and issuance of commemorative coins to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of Korean immigration into the United States.
The findings of the bill indicate that in December 1902, 56 men, 21 women, and 25 children left Korea aboard the S.S. Gaelic and landed in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 13, 1903. Since this voyage, approximately one million Koreans have immigrated to the United States.
H.R. 1958: Korean Immigration Commemorative Coin Act was introduced by Rep. Robert Andrews of New Jersey. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. There are a few unusual aspects of the proposed commemorative coin program.
The bill calls for the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue not more than 20,000 gold coins with a diameter of 0.850 inches and weight of 8.359 grams. The bill also calls for not more than 10,000 silver dollars with a diameter of 1.500 inches and weight of 26.73 grams to be minted and issued. Both proof and uncirculated qualities of each coin would be produced.
The mintage limit specified for the silver dollars of only 10,000 coins across proof and uncirculated versions is incredibly low. Recent commemorative silver dollars have typically had maximum mintages of 350,000 or 500,000 coins. For the 2012 programs, sales to date for silver dollars have already exceeded 180,000 coins. A mintage of only 10,000 pieces would create an instant rarity.
If the bill becomes law, the commemorative coins would be issued during the one year period beginning on January 1, 2018 and carry the 2018 date. This represents another unusual aspect of the program, since the coins are to be issued in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the start of Korean immigration, which occurred on January 13, 2003. Within the history of United States commemorative coins, there have been several coins issued one or more years after the anniversary which they are commemorating, however a 15 year gap would be the largest.
Surcharges of $35 per gold coin and $10 per silver dollar would be distributed to the Secretary to the Council on 100th Year Korean Immigration Commemorative Coin Act to provide academic scholarships.
There have been three previous attempts to authorize commemorative coins in for the 100th anniversary of the beginning of Korean immigration into the United States. Rep. Robert Andrews previously introduced bills in the 107th, 108th, and 109th sessions of Congress. The first two of these bills called for the coins to be issued in 2003, with the third calling for coins issued in 2011. All three bills had included authorization for up to 500,000 silver dollars and did not include gold coins.