Exploring the Fascinating World of Korean Currency: From Bronze Coins to Cashless Transactions


The earliest currency used in Korea was the bronze coins during the Goryeo Dynasty (918~1392).

These coins had Chinese characters inscribed on them. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392~1910), paper money called "joseonjeon" was introduced in the late 14th century.

This currency was used until the end of the dynasty.

In the early 1900s, Japan annexed Korea, and the Japanese yen became the official currency. After gaining independence from Japan in 1945, the Korean government issued new currency called "hwan," which was used until 1962. The hwan was then replaced by the won, which is still in use today.

Currently, there are four types of bills and four types of coins in circulation. The bills are 1,000 won, 5,000 won, 10,000 won, and 50,000 won, while the coins are 10 won, 50 won, 100 won, and
500 won. Each bill and coin has its own design, featuring important figures and landmarks that reflect the country's history and culture. For example, the 1,000 won bill features the portrait of Yulgok Yi I, a Confucian scholar from the Joseon Dynasty. The 10,000 won bill features the portrait of King Sejong the Great, who is known for his contributions to the development of the Korean alphabet.

Cash is still common in Korea, but there has been a recent push towards cashless transactions as well.

In addition to the various designs on the bills and coins, there are interesting hidden features included in the design elements. For example, the 5,000 won bill has a security thread that is only visible when held up to the light. The thread is woven with the word "오천원" (5,000 won) and a pattern of the rose of Sharon, which is the national flower of South Korea.

Another interesting feature of Korean currency is the use of tactile marks to help visually-impaired individuals distinguish between different denominations. Each bill has a unique set of raised dots and lines that can be felt to identify the value. This system is known as the "tactile marks system" and is widely used in many countries around the world.

Korean currency has undergone several changes in recent years to incorporate new security features to prevent counterfeiting. For example, the new 50,000 won bill, introduced in 2009, has a hologram image of the national flower, the rose of Sharon, and a 3D security thread that changes color when tilted.

Commemorative coins are issued to celebrate significant events or anniversaries and often feature special designs. In 2018, the Bank of Korea issued commemorative coins to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country. The coins featured the national emblem and the number "70" in Korean and English.

Some of the coins feature animals such as tigers, cranes, and magpies, which are considered important symbols in Korean culture. For example, the 100 won coin features a crane, which is a symbol of longevity and good fortune.

The printing and minting process is carefully controlled to ensure that each bill and coin is of the highest quality. In addition, the Bank of Korea regularly conducts surveys to gather feedback on the quality of the currency from the public.

The value of Korean currency can fluctuate depending on various economic factors such as inflation and exchange rates. However, the government and the Bank of Korea work to maintain stability in the currency by implementing various monetary policies.

Learning about Korean currency can provide valuable insights into the country's long and complex history, as well as its present-day economic landscape.