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50,000 and 100,000 Won Bills Issued in the First Half of 2009

50,000 and 100,000 Won Bills Issued in the First Half of 2009

Posted May. 03, 2007 03:01,   


During the first half of 2009, large denomination bills of 50,000 won and 100,000 won will be issued.

On May 2, the Bank of Korea (BOK) said, “Compared to 1973 when the 10,000 won note was first issued, Korea’s per capita income has grown by 150 times and prices have gone up over 12-fold. However, the highest banknote denomination has been the 10,000 won bill for 34 years. Economic costs are very high and it is inconvenient for people to keep using the current largest denomination notes. Considering all this, we are planning to issue higher denomination bills in the first half of 2009.”

Convenience can have side-effects-

“Considering Korea’s economic standing in the world, it is unrealistic to maintain 10,000 won bills as the largest bank note,” say many economists.

According the BOK, the average face value of the largest bank notes among 29 OECD members (Korea excluded) is about 350,000 won.

On top of that, among 212 countries of the world, there are only 29 countries, whose highest denomination bills are lower in face value than Korea’s, and they include Somalia, Mongolia and Sudan.

The central bank expects the issuance of the largest denomination bill will save about 280 billion won annually in saved costs for issuing and maintaining cashier’s checks.

An additional 40 billion won in printing, transporting and storing costs will be saved when 40 percent of the demand for 10,000 won bills is turned into demand for larger notes.

Some civic groups, including the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, are against the issuance, however, saying that larger bank notes can be easily used for political slush funds, exacerbating corruption in our society.

The new notes will be about the same size as the old 10,000 won bills-

It seems that the BOK had already decided on the physical size of the largest denomination bills when it issued new 5,000 won notes and new 10,000 won bills this January.

The BOK’s issuance director Wang Yong-ki said, “We will stick to our principle of making the width of the new bills wider.” The current new banknotes all have the same width of 68mm with different lengths. New 1,000 won bills are 136mm, new 5,000 notes are 142mm and new 10,000-won notes are 148mm in length; the bills get bigger by 6mm as their denominations get bigger. Thus, it is likely that the new 50,000-won notes will be 154mm and the new 100,000-won notes will be 160mm in length.

Old notes, circulating at the same time with new ones, are 76mm in length. Because old 1,000 won notes are 151mm, 5,000-won notes are 156mm, and 10,000-won notes are 161mm in width, 50,000-won bills are likely to be between old 1,000-won bills and old 5,000-won bills in width, and 100,000-won notes will be similar in width to old 10,000-won bills.

The ‘Currency Design Advisory Committee,’ which will consist of art and history experts, will first have 2 to 3 candidate figures for the portrait to be printed on the new notes, and then eventually decide on one after carrying out polls.

Currently, Lee Hwang is portrayed on Korea’s 1,000 won notes, Lee Yi on 5,000- won notes, and King Sejong on 10,000-won notes. Average Koreans are said to prefer portraits of Kim Gu, Jeong Yak-yong, Shin Saimdang, King Gwanggaeto the Great, and Ryu Gwan-soon on the bigger notes.

kimsunmi@donga.com sanjuck@donga.com