South Korea Money , South Korean Won

April 14, 2010South Koreaby KeithTimimi


The official currency of South Korea is the won. It is one of the major Asian currencies, along with the Hong Kong dollar, the Singapore dollar, and the Japanese yen.

History of the won

The word "won" comes from a mix of the Chinese yuan and the Japanese yen. The won has been South Korea's currency from 1902 and 1910 until the Japenese invasion and replacement by the yen.

The won was finally reintroduced again after World War II. Initially, 15 won made up one US dollar, but since then it has been devalued considerably. After the Korean war, it took 6,000 won to equal one US dollar, only six years after its introduction.

Then, in 1962, a second South Korean won was introduced. It, too, was pegged to the US dollar, but this time at a rate of 125 won to 1 US dollar.

It has been devalued numerous times until 1980 when it reached 580 to 1. Then, the pegging was abandoned, and it became a free-floating currency.

Minting the Won

The Korean won is produced by the Bank of Korea. This is the only body that has the right to produce the Korean currency. The actual printing is done at KOMSCO. KOMSCO is the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation. KOMSCO is located in Daejeon.

Aside from printing the won, KOMSCO also prints the Israeli new sheqel. KOMSCO also prints the nation's passports, postage stamps, cashier's chques, and more.

Notes that are currently printed are the 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 bills. Coins the government-owned corporation mints are the 10, 50, 100, and 500 units.

The New Won

A new series of banknotes was issued in 2007 to fight rampant counterfeiting. Mainly, the 5,000 won note was being forged, resulting in more than half of them being recalled.

The security features of this new series are among the best in the world. They include many of the anti-counterfeit characteristics the yen, Canadian dollar, British Pound, and Euros have, plus more.

The 10,000 won note has 21 security features, the 5,000 has 17, and the 1,000 note has 19. Some of these features are:

  • Watermarks
  • Raised intaglio printing
  • A security thread
  • 3D holograms
  • Color shifting on denomination number on the back

The wons also have a new substance withn the paper to identify them as genuine. This is an innovation pioneered by KOMSCO.

The 50,000 won note (in ciculation in June 2009) is the first bill to have the image of a woman on it.

Shin Saimdang is the woman, who was a well-known calligrapher and artist from the 1700s. She was planned to appear on the 100,000 won note as well, but its release was withdrawn.

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