Monday, December 14, 2009

South Korean money.

Who doesn't like a little green in their wallets? How about some yellow?

Yeah, some cold. hard. yellow.
Korean 50 000 원 bill
That's what the inside of Korean wallets will look like come late June.

Plenty of people are happy about this. Of course, some were concerned over the choice of the historical figure that will appear on the face on the bill. Yet, no one seems to mind these bills...

A 100 000 원 bill was almost approved, too (to replace those goofy "money order" notes). I guess it was too much to ask, right? Hey I'm not complaining, though. I'm happy that we have the 50 000 원 bill  at least. Before that, the largest bill commonly available was the 10 000 원. Not exactly convenient in large quantities. Yet the 10 000 note represents over 90% of all note production currently in Korea. If you think of the money as 1 USD = 1000 KRW then we had a buck, a five and a ten dollar bill and that's it. Slim pickings.

Dissidents to the new bill say that seeing as how Korea is becoming more credit-centered, the new bill is moot. Also, the larger denomination might encourage counterfeiters. However, security features on the won are already impressive, all things considered. At least Korea doesn't have the supernote to worry about. Instead, they had the dreaded 오천원 a few years back.

But the introduction of the new note won't be a completely seamless transaction, it seems. Korean ATMs have to be fitted to accept the new bills. But, being a cash society Korea has already ran prototype bills through the majority of machines and assure that everything will run smoothly on release.

The new bills are also 6mm bigger. Hey, so long as the new notes fit in envelopes, then I'm happy. Exposed money in Korea is like exposed skin: you should cover it up as quickly as possible. And like a hiked-up skirt, staring at it is like staring at the sun. Come on people. Be decent, will you?
Envelope Skirt
Also, like most mints, there will be an exclusive sale of the first 20,000 notes (minus the first 100 which will be sent to the Museum of Korea). Even though I'm into history like nobody's business, I've always been a bit perplexed by unused currency being sold for more than their printed value. Remember when the new quarters came out? People were buying up those quarters on QVC like crazy. But doesn't a piece of history have to first have a history first in order to be considered history? I'd rather hang a Where's George? bill in my studyroom...but I digress. You know, I really shouldn't be talking. I paid a pretty penny for a mint condition Final Fantasy III cartridge for the Super Nintendo a few years ago.

And my creditability just went down.

Anyways, here's more info on the new bill production. For that matter, here's a nice article with a brief history of the coin and paper money still used today.