Posted by: rbbadger | June 20, 2009

50,000 won note

Next week, the Bank of Korea will inssue the 50,000 won note.  For quite a while, the highest value of currency has been the 10,000 won note, worth somewhere in the neighbourhood of $8-12 dollars depending on market fluctuations.  For the longest time, people have been using higher denominated currency in the form of cashier’s checks issued by the banks.  Yes, you can get cashier’s checks straight from the ATM here.  I’ve used them before, especially when I made more expensive purchases, such as my digital camera.  I’m not sure that all merchants accept them, but I’ve never had a problem. 

Japan’s highest denominated currency, the 10,000 yen note, is worth about $100.  In the People’s Republic of China, the 100 yuan note is worth about $14.  Anyhow, the Bank of Korea decided it was about time that they issued some higher denominated banknotes.  A 100,000 won note was in the works, but owing to controversies over the design on the back of it, it has been shelved for the time being. 

To see the new banknote, please click here.  This is the first time that a woman has been featured on a South Korean banknote.  I believe that they have been featured on North Korean banknotes before, but I think that they generally tend to be workers on collective farms glorifying in yet another bumper crop produced under the fatherly leadership of the Great Leader or some such nonsense.  The woman featured, Shin Saimdang, was a talented artist and calligrapher.  She was also the mother of Yulgok, one of Korea’s greatest neo-Confucian scholars and a formidable prodigy.  She was long lauded as the very model of faithful Korean motherhood.  Nevertheless, she managed to excel in areas where men formerly dominated absolutely, namely in calligraphy and painting.  Very few women of her time could actually read and write. 

The Bank of Korea also has an interesting series of examples of South Korean currency through the ages.  It is all in Korean, though if you click on the year links, you’ll easily see examples of South Korea’s money since liberation from Japan.  This section may be accessed here.  When I first came to Korea, the money looked like this.  I sort of miss it, actually.

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