Are you traveling to South Korea? Then you may not be familiar with handling Korean cash. (By the way, the currency in South Korea is called won.) Well, here is a quick guide for understanding Korean money with ease. If you are looking for currency exchange rates, you can also check out the currency converter.
1,000 won - Cheonwon ("chuh-nwuhn")
The easiest way of knowing how much value Korean bills have is to divide them by a thousand. Approximately, 1,000 won is worth about 1 U.S. dollar. So just remember that everything is multiplied by 1,000.
How to remember: Cheonwon bills are cyan (cheon = cyan)
5,000 won - Ocheonwon ("oh-chuh-nwuhn")
What is cheonwon times five? That would be ocheonwon. The "o" indicates the number 5. So how much is ocheonwon in dollars? It's approximately $5 USD ($4.30 USD to be more accurate).
How to remember: Ocheonwon bills are orange (ocheon = orange)
10,000 won - Manwon ("mah-nwuhn")
Is there a better way to flex than creating a writing system for the people as a king? Because that is exactly what King Sejong did. Instead of depending on an infinite number of Chinese characters, Korean were able to read and write without any difficulty thanks to the creation of Hangul, aka the Korean alphabet. That is why Sejong the Great deserves to be the face of the manwon bill. (To learn more about Hangul and the Korean language, check out these Korean books made for beginners.)
How to remember: The "man" who created Hangul is on the "man-won" bill
50,000 won - Omanwon ("oh-mah-nwuhn")
While the United States and many other countries only have male figures on their banknotes (as of 2019), South Korea introduced a new bill in 2009 with a woman's face. Omanwon, which is roughly $50 USD, is the largest denomination of the Korean currency.
How to remember: The "50-dollar" bill is yellow, which rhymes with "Five-O"
10 won - Sibwon ("shee-bwuhn")
This is basically the Korean penny. It is worth so little, it actually costs more money to make it. Thankfully, many stores in South Korea have donation piggy banks just to get rid of these coins.
50 won - Osibwon ("oh-shee-bwuhn")
Consider this the Korean nickel, which is worth five 10 wons. Korean coins are easy to discern since their numerical values are shown on the back side.
100 won - Baegwon ("bae-gwuhn")
Yup, you guessed it. This is the Korean dime, worth about 10 cents. Sadly, there is almost nothing one can purchase with 100 won. Even a candy lollipop costs more than that unless you buy them in bulk.
500 won - Obaegwon ("oh-bae-gwuhn")
This is the largest Korean coin, numerically and physically. 500 won is equal in value to two quarters, give or take.
Personal checks are mostly not used in South Korea. Instead, a form of cashier's checks called supyo ("soo-pyoh") is used for handling large sums of money. Supyo bills are usually worth a lot more money than regular Korean banknotes, starting with 100,000 won checks. These bank-authorized checks can be obtained from any regular bank. Read How to Open a Bank Account in Korea to learn more about banking.