This 1-dollar coin is a near exact reproduction of the original Korea Medal that was awarded to all Commonwealth forces at the end of the war. The word "CANADA" was engraved on the medal's obverse in order to distinguish it from those medals awarded to Canadian military personnel. The 2013 issue date and a one dollar denomination have been added to transform the design from medal into a coin.
In adapting the Korea Medal for this coin, Royal Canadian Mint engravers faithfully preserved Edward Carter Preston's original design of Hercules, the idealized warrior from Roman mythology, slaying the indomitable hydra-headed monster as an allegory for the perilous struggles of war, and a tribute to those who freely go to battle. In addition, the original engraving of "KOREA" has been expanded to include "CORÉE" in order to reflect Canada's official status as a bilingual nation. The obverse also features the same effigy that appeared on the original medal; the 1953 portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Mary Gillick, which was also in use on Canadian coins in this time period.