Korean Won Symbol and Currency Denominations


The Korean won (wan; Korean: 원, Korean pronunciation: [wan]; symbol: ₩; code: KRW) is the currency of South Korea.  The smallest unit of the won is a single won, divided into 100 jeon, the monetary subunit.  You will rarely see that monetary subunit.

One thousand won (1,000) is roughly equivalent to one U.S. dollar ($1.00). Most people get the exchange rate between 1 USD to Korean Won.  The Korean Won exchange rate changes every day.

The paper banknote bills come in denominations of 1,000 won, 5,000 won, 10,000 won, 50,000 won and 100,000 won.  Rarely will you see the 100,000 won and even rarer is the 2,000 won. Everyday use coins come in 50 won, 100 won and 500 won.


Are Foreign Currencies Accepted in South Korea?


Foreign currencies like the U.S. dollar or Japanese Yen are not accepted in normal daily monetary transactions other than at monetary exchange shops, banks, investments and South Korea’s international airports, Gimpo and Incheon.  You would get a funny stare when trying to purchase coffee with U.S. dollars or Chinese Yuans.

Only the South Korean Won is accepted unless you use credit cards.  Credit cards domestic to South Korea and international credit cards are accepted at almost all retailers, merchants, and food establishments.


Payment Methods in South Korea


• Cash
Cash is still the preferred method of payment.  Cows and pigs are no longer accepted.  Unless they are very unique cows and pigs.  Just kidding.  I’ve purchased a bottle of soda and handed a 50,000 won banknote without any hassles.  Money is used to pay for everyday things like taxis, buses, food establishments, train rides, just about everywhere in South Korea.  It’s a good idea to keep a small amount of cash, around $200 in your wallet when visiting rural areas far from the city.

As I said, cash is the way to pay for things in South Korea.  You will use it to pay entrance fees to tourist places, amusement parks, small restaurants, small shops, laundromats, car washes, buses, trams, taxis, trains. Vending machines take 1,000 won, 5,000 won and even Korean 10,000 Won.


Korean Won KRW Notes


• Credit Cards
South Korea is a modern developed nation with a well-developed credit card system.  International credit cards from different countries are widely accepted.  From hotels, department stores, restaurants, malls, hospitals, taxis, train stations, supermarkets, convenience stores, amusement parks, your VISA, MASTERCARD, AMERICAN EXPRESS cards are accepted.


Image of Credit Cards

Story About An Experience With the South Korean Won

For several years, my family and I visited South Korea during the summer, and my mother would give me $100 to spend for the whole summer. I was a young kid back then. That $100 may not seem much, but once converted to Korean won, it seemed like a lot of money. Back then, during the 1980s things were cheaper, so in a sense I did have a lot of money. I received ten 120,000 Won back later due to the excellent U.S. dollar to Korean Won exchange rate.


History Of The First South Korean Won

During the Japanese colonial occupation (1910- 1945), the Korean won was replaced with the Korean yen. After the end of World War II in 1945, there was the North won, and South won, which replaced the Korean yen. It was the first time the 100 jeon was introduced. The South Korean won had a fixed exchange rate of 15 won to 1 U.S. dollar in the beginning.


History of the second South Korean Won

On June 10, 1962, the won was again introduced at a rate of 1 won to 10 hwanj. The won lead to a floating exchange rate on December 24, 1997, with an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.


South Korean Won Has Security Features For Protection Against Counterfeiting

South Korean banknotes are on par to European, Japanese, and U.S. money in security features. Security features are implemented into the banknotes to fight against counterfeit notes.


South Korea Coins


Security Features of the South Korean won


1. Holograms: Three-dimensional images that change colors within the metallic foil.
2. Watermark: watermarks that are visible in the white section of the note when held to a light.
3. Intaglio printing: giving the watermark effigy a raised feeling.
4. Security Thread: located on the right side of the note that has “한국은행 Bank of Korea” and its corresponding denomination written in small letters.
5. Color-shifting ink: the number value of the banknote shifts color.
6. Unique substance that detects counterfeits.

Number of Security Features of Each South Korea Banknote Currencies
The 1,000 won note has 19 security features.
The 5,000 won note has 17 security features.
The 10,000 won note has 21 security features.
The 50,000 won note has 22 security features.


NOTE: Rest assured that South Korea’s currency are as secure as U.S. dollars.

What Organization Can Legally Produce South Korea Currency?
The Bank of Korea is the only institution that can legally print banknotes and mint coins.


South Korean Won


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DISCLAIMER:  The paragraphs above is my attempt at Korean English humor.  I am a Korean-American, so I believe it is ok.  If you don’t like it, then don’t read the paragraphs above.  Too late, you already done it.