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KRW - South Korean Won

South Korean Won Converters

The conversion rates from South Korean Won to other currencies were last updated 41 minutes ago.

The South Korean won is the official currency of South Korea, and has been for thousands of years, in both Koreas prior to separation. The won (symbol: ) is made up of 100 smaller units, called jeons. The jeon, which means money in South Korean, is not available as part of everyday monetary transactions, and is only used in foreign exchange rates.

Although a single won is the official currency, the smallest denomination that is used today is 100 won, and the most common banknotes in circulation are 1,000 won and upwards, right up to 50,000 won. The exchange U.S. dollar to won ratio was arbitrarily pegged at 2.16 (2.16 was chosen to reference the birthday of Kim Jong-il, who was born on February 16), but it has been lowered because of the black market, where the won is exchanged for a significantly lower rate. The won is available as a banknote and a coin.

History of the Won

Before the won was introduced, the Korean mun was used from 1633 onward as means of monetary transaction. It was succeeded by the yang in 1892, which was the first Korean currency that was divided into smaller units, which allowed decimalization. Finally, in 1902, the won was established as the official currency, with 1 won replacing 5 yang. However, during the Colonial era, Korea was annexed by Japan, which introduced the Korean yen as its official currency.

The end of World War II in 1945, saw the won being replaced the yen. The peg was set at 15 won for a single U.S. dollar, but, the won was replaced yet again due to a massive drop in value, by the hwan, at a rate of 1 hwan to 100 won. Once its value had stabilized, the won was finally re-introduced in 1962, at a rate of 1 won to 10 hwan. The pegs varied across the years, until the floating exchange rate was introduced in 1997, as part of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Coins

It wasn’t until after 1966 that the new coins, denominated in won, were introduced into circulation. Prior to that, hwan coins were the only ones available, in denominations of 10 and 50. The Bank of Korea brought back the won, in new denominations of 1, 5 and 10. The 1 won coin was distinguishable because it was made out of brass, while the 10 and 50 won coins were struck in bronze. Because the actual value of the 1 won brass coin was greater than its denominated value, aluminum coins were introduced as a replacement in 1968.

Similarly, in 1970, the 5 and the 10 won bronze coins were pulled from circulation, and new, brass ones were issued in their place. The 100 won cupronickel alloy coins were issues the same year, followed by the same coin, albeit with a different denomination of 50 won, two years later. Due to inflation, as well as the growing presence and popularity of the vending machines, the 500 won coin was issued in 1982.

The following year saw slight modifications introduced to the basic design of the won, as the 5 won coins that were in circulation at the time were updated to match the design of the 500 won coin. The changes were very subtle, apart from the removal of the “THE BANK OF KOREA” written in English on the back of the coin. Even though it was still regularly produced almost every year up until 1991, the 1 won coins had all but disappeared from everyday transactions, as a result of the growing inflation.

Today, the 1 and 5 won coins are a rare find, seeing that as the prices are set in increments of 10 won. The actual production costs per single won coin in 1998 were: 35 won for the production of the 10 won coin, 58 won for the 100 won coin and 77 won for the production of the 500 won coin. Interesting fact: the 100 won coin is exactly the same shape as the U.S. quarter.

Notes

In addition to coins, The Bank of Korea is also in charge of producing banknotes. The banknotes are printed in denominations of 1000 won, all the way up to 50,000 won. The face of each South Korean won bill features a member of the Yi (Chosŏn) dynasty. The 1000 and 5000 won banknotes features writers Yi Hwang and Yi I , respectively, while the image of King Sejong is incorporated on the 10,000 won bill, who ruled Korea from 1419 to 1450.

Originally, there was a total of 6 banknote denominations printed in 1962 by the Bank of Korea, including the 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 won bills. The first series of these banknotes was printed by De La Rue, a British company specializing in security printing and papermaking. A third series of 100 won bills was printed domestically, using the intaglio (where the image is incised into the surface) printing techniques, in order to minimize the chances of counterfeiting. The following year saw the replacement of the British-printed 500 won banknotes, with new bills also featuring intaglio printing, as well as the replacement for the 50 won banknotes in 1969, which featured lithographic printing.

The Bank of Korea also uses a unique system for the designation of the banknotes and coins. As opposed to having all the notes or coins that feature the same design and issue dates in the same series, each series is given series number X to the Xth, using Korean letters, based on the version of the design, for each denomination.


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