What You Need To Know About Money In South Korea

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In South Korea, there are four types of banknotes and four types of coins currently in circulation.

There are many currencies (or money) in the world, and we all know that banknotes and/or coins of each country will always either feature prominent landmarks or historical figures, all in the name of culture.

What about South Korea? Have you ever wondered who is on Korean money? If yes, welcome to the club!

Korean Banknotes

To date, there are four standard Korean Won banknotes. They are 1,000 won, 5,000 won, 10,000 won and 50,000 won. Just like the value of the banknote, the size of each denomination also increases in accordance to its worth, for example: 5,000 won banknote is slightly bigger than 1,000 Won banknote, and 10,000 Won banknote is slightly bigger than 5,000 won banknote. That’s how money works everywhere too, isn’t it?

₩1,000 (won)

Source: visitkorea.or.kr

Front: Yi Hwang Toegye (1501 – 1570)
Yi Hwang is one of the most prominent Confucian scholars during Joseon Dynasty. He was a central figure of the Neo-Confucian literati. He was the author of many important books on Confucianism. He had a strong command over poetry and calligraphy. Toegye was his pen name. In central Seoul, a street is even named after him, called Toegyero.

Back: Gyesangjeonggeodo
The reverse side of the bill is a painting of Yi Hwang in the old Korea’s Dosan Seowon. If you don’t know, Dosan Seowon is actually the present day Andong.

₩5,000 (won)


Source: visitkorea.or.kr

Front: Yi I Yulgok (1536 – 1584)
Just like Yi Hwang (Toegye), Yi I was also one of the most prominent Korean Confucian scholar of the Joseon Dynasty. He was also a politician and reformer. He is usually referred by his pen name, Yulgok. If you are a fan of Sageuk (historical period dramas), you should know that Joseon dynasty is frequently used as the backdrop of the stories many times. Joseon is also the last dynasty of Korea.

Back: Chochungdo
On this side of the bill, it features a beautiful painting by Yi I’s mother Shin Saimdang. The name of the painting is “Chochungdo”, which means “Insects and Plants”.

₩10,000 (won)

Source: visitkorea.or.kr

Front: Sejong the Great (1397 – 1450)
Sejong the Great was the 4th king of Joseon Dynasty. Every Korea lover must know him because he was the one that created and introduced the beautiful unique alphabet system of the Korean language – Hangul. In simple words, all the songs that your favorite K-pop idols sing today are only made possible because of King Sejong’s invention of Hangul.

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Back: Honcheonsigye
Honcheonsigye is a celestial clock, and it is shown on the reverse-side of 10,000 won banknote. It is the only astronomical clock left from the Joseon Dynasty in present days. The clock was made back in 1669 by Song I-yeong. As a priceless artefact, Honcheonsigye is designated as South Korea National Treasure number 230.

₩50,000 (won)

Source: visitkorea.or.kr

Front: Shin Saimdang (1504 – 1551)
This name could immediately ring a bell to K-drama fans. Yes, this is the comeback drama of veteran actress Lee Young-ae after 16 years of hiatus. Back to this important historical figure, Shin Saimdang was considered a role model of Confucian ideals. She was the mother of Yi I. She possessed wide knowledge as a writer, poet, artist, and calligraphist. She was also known with a respectful nickname Eojin Eomeoni (“Wise Mother”).

Back: Wolmaedo
The back of the note has a simple picture of a bamboo and a plum tree. Little information is known about this painting but this could come from one of Shin Saimdang’s paintings called Chochungdo.

Korean Coins

There are two sides to every coin.

Same goes to Korean coins! South Korea still uses coins and they are available in four denominations: 10 won, 50 won, 100 won, and 500 won. Each of these coins features a specific cultural image of South Korea. At the front side of each coin, it features a specific image, while the other side shows the value in digit.

Coin Front Significance
10 won Dabotap Pagoda Gyeongju’s renowned temple
50 won Stalk of rice Tasty and healthy
100 won Yi Sun-sin Beloved navy admiral of Korea
500 won Red-crowned crane The captivating crane that can be found in Korea

Want to read what’s on the Korean banknotes and coins yourself? It’s easy to learn Korean now with this proven online method!

Which banknote or coin is your favorite? Share with us in the comment box below!

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