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5 Fun Facts About the South Korean Won

Anne May 12th, 2021
5 Fun Facts About the South Korean Won


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Headed to South Korea this year? Travel tip: Get to know their currency beforehand with these fun facts! Don't forget to exchange your currency before you head over!


How the South Korean won came around

The official currency of South Korea is the South Korean won. Following World War ll in 1945, Korea was divided into North and South regions. Each country has a different currency, both called the won, for the South (KRW) and the North (KPW). The Korean won replaced the Korean yen, which was issued from 1910 to 1945. In fact, the word “won” is derived from the Chinese yuan and the Japanese yen. 


The South Korean won banknotes

The South Korean Won has four different banknote denominations ₩1,000, ₩5,000, ₩10,0000, ₩50,000. Korean Won banknotes showcase different prominent Korean figures in Korean culture and history. The one thousand, five thousand, and ten thousand won displays Korean Confucian scholars of the Joseon Dynasty. Whereas the fifty thousand won shows the first woman to appear on a South Korean banknote Shin Saimdang, a Korean artist, writer, calligraphist and poet. Saimdang’s image reflects a good wife and wise mother. 


KRW coins

The South Korean won coins consist of six types: ₩1, ₩5, ₩10, ₩50, ₩100, ₩500. Similar to the US coins, all the coins share a silver color while the smallest valued coin is a copper color. 


Watermarks and security features

The banknotes all have a hologram strip on the left end of the bills. There are three changing images when viewed from different angles displaying the map of Korea, the taeguek, and the four signs of trigrams. In addition, on the blue-grey film thread, there are various targeuk figures that are shown in all directions as moving objects. They move to the left and right when the bill is tilted up and down and move up and down when the note is tilted to the left and right. These security measures and more makes the won a very difficult currency to replicate illegally.


The South Korean won within their economy

The South Korean economy is the 12th largest economy in the world, best known for technology and auto companies Samsung and Hyundai. South Korea’s economy is largely dependent on international trade, because of this, it's in the top 10 of the largest exporter and importer countries. 


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