The Korean won is used as the official currency of South Korea. Its name is a cognate of the Chinese Yuan and the Japanese Yen, all derived from the Spanish-American dollar. The word Won is derived from the hanja for round, which described the shape of the silver dollar coin. Each won is equivalent to 100 jeon. The Bank of Korea is in charge of the distribution of the won, It was established on 12 June 1950 and replaced the Bank of Chosen. It is important to note that this Bank of Korea is different from the Bank of Korea that was established during Japanese rule.

South Korea 100 Won | 1950 | P-7 | Source: Banknote World Educational

The Hwan

The won was briefly replaced by the Hwan from 1952 to 1962. The hwan/won replaced the South Korean won at a rate of 100:1. The currency appeared as hwan in Chinese but won in both English and Hangul. The mismatch of these notes was often attributed to the early printing of the notes. The 1 and 5 won notes were printed in Korea while larger denominations were printed in United States. The mismatch was eventually resolved in the succeeding printing of hwan notes.

South Korea 1 KRW | 1953 | P-11b | Source: Banknote World Educational

The 1953 hwan note was one of the corrected notes. It has black, light blue, purple, and red colors and also dimensions of 156 mm x 66 mm. Its front side featured the hibiscus flower and the Namdaemun in Seoul. Its reverse side features the Haegeumgang seaside formation in Geoje. Because this note was printed in the 50s, the note does not have a security thread or a watermark. It only left when they saw Hak.

The New Won

 The won was reintroduced on June 9, 1962. It replaced the hwan at a rate of 1:10 and became the sole legal tender in 1975. It was initially pegged at a rate of 125 won to a dollar. However, a series of devaluations happened until it was allowed to float in 1997. Today, the Bank of Korea issues notes in denominations ranging from 1,000 KRW to 50,000 KRW. These notes feature prominent Choseon and Yi dynasty figures and artwork.

South Korea 50,000 KRW | Source: Banknote World

A commemorative 2,000 won note was issued by the Bank of Korea in December 2017. This note commemorates the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympic Games in 2018. In addition, this note was used for numismatic purposes only and was not intended for actual circulation. Its obverse side featured the different Winter Olympic events while its reverse side showed the tiger and the pine tree from the Songhamaenghodo from Kim Hong-do.

South Korea 2,000 KRW | 2018 | Source: Banknote World

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