The South Korean won is the currency in circulation in South Korea since 1945, although it would later be replaced, temporarily, by the Hwan. It is divided into 100 dollars, the amount of which there is no currency. The plural of "won" is "wones".

Origins and history of the South Korean won

To talk about the origins of the South Korean won we must go back to the end of World War II. In 1945 Korea was divided into North and South. Each of these territories would have a different currency, although, in both cases, it would be called won and would replace the existing yen.

The South Korean won was initially set against the US dollar at a 15 won equals $1 rate. After this, the currency would suffer a series of devaluations, in part, by the Korean War.

The first South Korean won was replaced by the hwan on February 15, 1953 at a rate of 1 hwan equal to 100 won.

At that time, it was the Bank of Joseon that minted the coins and issued the notes and it was not until 1950 when the Bank of Korea was created. And with it, new banknote denominations were introduced. A year later a new series of bills denominated in won was introduced, although they were the first emissions of the hwan.

On June 9, 1962, the won was reintroduced with an exchange rate for which 10 hwan equaled 1 KRW and on March 22, 1975 it would become the only legal currency in South Korea. At the time of its introduction, 125 won equaled 1 US dollar.

On December 24, 1997 an agreement was signed with the International Monetary Fund to allow the free fluctuation of the won in the market. Shortly thereafter it was devalued to almost half its value as many other Asian currencies, due to the Asian financial crisis.

Banknotes and coins of the Philippine peso in use

The Bank of Korea, headquartered in Seoul, is responsible for coining the coins and issuing the banknotes.

Currently, 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 won coins and 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 50,000 won bills are in circulation.

Did you know?

  • The word "won" is a cognate term derived from the Chinese yuan and the Japanese yen, coins that have in common the same Chinese symbol, one that denotes the round property of an object (in this case, the coins).
  • The term "jeon" means "money.
  • In 1946, the Bank of Joseon introduced notes of 10 and 100 won, followed in 1949 by the denominations of 5 and 1000. Their designs were similar to those of the Japanese notes of the period of the Japanese invasion, although there were two differences with these: the paulownia, emblem of the government of Japan, was replaced by a rose from Syria, the Korean national flower, and the text regarding the interchangeability of the won with the Japanese yen was eliminated.
  • In 1968, the brass with which the coin was made of 1 won exceeded in price the face value of it, so that this metal was replaced by aluminum.
  • In 2006, many of the banknotes in circulation were being falsified, such as 5000 won, which prompted the government to introduce a new series of banknotes that include security measures such as 3D holograms that change color, watermarks with portraits, etc.
  • On June 23, 2009, the Bank of Korea announced the issuance of 100 000 won bills, but its introduction was canceled at the last moment.





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Bank of Korea

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