South Korea Currency Guide

The official currency of South Korea is the “won.” A won is subdivided into 100 “jeon,” but the jeon isn’t part of the daily economy. It’s only used when in the forex markets to value the won against other currencies.

The ISO 4217 code for the won is “KRW.” The symbol for the won when writing out money is “₩.”

Korean Currency Pre-20th Century

The earliest Korean currency dates back to the third century B.C. Called “knife coins” minted in iron. Chinese currencies were also used, as were currency commodities like linen and grain.

Copper coins and paper money first appeared in the 14th century. They both disappeared by the 16th century. A new currency called “mun” became the primary currency in the 17th century and were minted in copper and bronze. The mun was used until late in the 19th century when it was replaced by the “yang.” The yang was Korea’s first decimal currency and was subdivided into 100 “fun.”

The 20th Century and Beyond

The won became official currency in Korea in 1902 and replaced the yang at one won to five yang. When Japan seized control of Korea, it introduced its yen. The won was reintroduced in 1945 and pegged to the U.S. dollar at 15 won to one U.S. dollar. However, by the end of the Korean War, the won was devalued and traded at 6000 won to one U.S. dollar.

Because of the won’s lost value, the “hwan” was issued in 1953 valued at 100 won to one hwan. The hwan also quickly lost value and the won became the official currency once again in 1962.

Denominations in Circulation

The following banknotes are in circulation:

-₩50,000
-₩10,000
-₩5000
– ₩1000

The following coinage is in circulation:

-₩500
-₩100
-₩50
-₩10