South Korea

South Korea's banknote printing firm secures Indonesia substrate contract

According to an article in The Korean Times dated 20 April 2015, the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation (KOMSCO) is seeking customers outside of Korea to offset declines in production brought about by the introduction of a 50,000-won note (BOK B53) in 2009 and the public's increased usage of credit cards instead of cash. "KOMSCO signed a deal with the Indonesian government in February to supply 8 million 'security papers' with enhanced security functions for 880 million won over the next three years," said CEO Kim Hwa-dong. The article mentions that KOMSCO has produced banknotes for the Indonesian government in the past several years, but doesn't identify precisely which notes it printed. Curiously, all current notes in Indonesia (BI B104-B108) bear the imprint PERUM PERCETAKAN UANG RI IMP and make no mention of KOMSCO.

South Korea banknote printer seeking more overseas contracts

According to an article in Korea Times dated 24 June 2014, Korea Minting, Security Printing & ID Card Operating Corp. (KOMSCO) has seen its production volume halved over the past five years, and hopes to utilize excess capacity by obtaining contracts to print banknotes for other countries. Countries for which KOMSCO has produced or is producing "currencies" (may include coins, not just banknotes) include China, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Libya, Peru, Switzerland, Thailand, and Vietnam. Last year KOMSCO won an order from Peru to produce 305 million 50-nuevo sole notes, with delivery to be completed by the end of June 2014.

South Korea chapter of The Banknote Book is now available

South Korea

The South Korea chapter of The Banknote Book is now available for individual sale at US$9.99, and as a free download to subscribers. BONUS: Buyers of this chapter also get the North Korea chapter free!

At the time of initial publication, this 18-page catalog covers every note (159 types and varieties, including 62 notes unlisted in the SCWPM) issued by the Bank of Chosen from 1945 to 1950, and the Bank of Korea from 1949 to present day.

Each chapter of The Banknote Book includes detailed descriptions and background information, full-color images, and accurate valuations. The Banknote Book also features:
  • Sharp color images of note’s front and back without overlap
  • Face value or date of demonetization if no longer legal tender
  • Specific identification of all vignette elements
  • Security features described in full
  • Printer imprint reproduced exactly as on note
  • Each date/signature variety assigned an individual letter
  • Variety checkboxes for tracking your collection and want list
  • Red stars highlight the many notes missing from the SCWPM
  • Date reproduced exactly as on note
  • Precise date of introduction noted when known
  • Replacement note information
  • Signature tables, often with names and terms of service
  • Background information for historical and cultural context
  • Details magnified to distinguish between note varieties
  • Bibliographic sources listed for further research

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The Challenge: Identify gate on front of South Korea 100-won note of 1950

Today’s challenge is to identify the gate which appear on the front of the old 100-won notes of South Korea.

If you can precisely identify the name and location of this gate—or have a lead which you think might be useful—please post a comment, preferably including a URL which links to evidence supporting your identification.

The following image appears on the front of the 100-won note of South Korea from 1950 (Pick 7):

IDENTIFIED: Gwanghwamun gate to Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul.

Courtesy of José Fabrício Macêdo.

South Korea 1983 1,000-won varieties reported

Color varieties for South Korea 1,000-won (US$0.85) note (Pick 47) from 1983 have recently been reported. Specifically, it appears that the portrait on the front and the buildings on the back are purple on one variety, and brown on the other variety. Furthermore, on the “purple” variety, the numerals 1000 at lower right on back are blue, whereas they are purple on the “brown” variety. Finally, the engraving or printing on the “brown” variety appears sharper than the “purple” variety, though there are no other differences in the text, underprinting, watermarks, or other security features.

The scans below were created at the same time, so the color variations are not a result of differences in the equipment. Collectors are encouraged to examine their notes and report if they can verify these differences on other examples. Also, I would appreciate hearing from collectors who can determine which of these notes came first based upon their serial number prefixes.

Purple Brown


Courtesy of Kevin Klauss.

South Koreans frustrated by 50,000-won notes

According to a Korea Times article dated 11-10-2009, some South Koreans have difficulty distinguishing between the new 50,000-won (US$43.20) note and the old 5,000-won (US$4.30) note due to “their physical similarity” and are calling for the government to change the color of the highest-value banknotes.

The Bank of Korea, however, says no countermeasures are being considered at this time, adding there are several identification devices applied to the bills: The 50,000-won bills are longer than 5,000-won notes by 12 millimeters, and a hologram on their surface is easily noticeable in dark places. "Such criticism is somewhat groundless because U.S. dollar bills are issued all in the same color but not subject to such confusion," a BOK official said on condition of anonymity. "The two bills are different in color, as 50,000-won bills are yellow and 5,000-won bills are reddish-yellow."

It’s hard to imagine how anyone can confuse the two notes since they are of clearly different colors, feature very different portraits, and have easily distinguishable security threads and holographic elements. However, I gave some thought to the BOK official’s defense that the US dollar isn’t subject to confusion. Perhaps it is precisely because the US notes are all the same size and approximate color that the public is forced to pay particular attention to their printed denominations.

In this case, the US benefits from a limited number of denominations, all of which can be expressed by one, two, or three easily distinguished digits: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. When looking at the 5,000- and 50,000-won notes, you see that it’s not easy to know the denomination at a glance because you must stop to count the zeros. An easy fix to this problem would be to use a space-holder character such as a comma, or make the last three zeros shorter than the other digits so that the 5 and 50 would stand out.

South Korea issues new 50,000-won note

On 23 June 2009, the Bank of Korea issued its first-ever 50,000-won note, now the highest denomination in the country.

50,000 won (US$38.85)
Yellow and green. Front: Tree branches, grape leaf, berries, and eggplant; painter and author Shin Saim-dang. Back (vertical): Bamboo tree and Japanese apricot tree. Holographic stripe with demetalized BANK OF KOREA 50000. Windowed Motion security thread. Solid security thread with demetalized 한국은행 50000. Watermark: Shin Saim-dang and electrotype 5 within pentagon. Printer: 한국조폐공사 제조 (Korea Minting & Security Printing Corporation). 154 x 68 mm.

Courtesy of Sejin Ahn.

South Korea to issue new 1,000- and 10,000-won notes in 2007

The Bank of Korea (BOK) announced that newly-designed 1,000- and 10,000-won notes with strengthened anti-forgery features will begin circulating on January 22, 2007. For more information, read this The Korea Times article and this one.

The Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation has been delivering the new W1,000 notes to the BOK since May 19, 2006, and began printing the new W10,000 banknotes on July 7, 2006.

Update (12/22/06): Lawmakers were poised to approve the introduction of larger denominations as early as 2008.

South Korea issues new 1,000- and 10,000-won notes

The Bank of Korea (BOK) issued newly-designed 1,000- and 10,000-won notes with strengthened anti-forgery features (including watermarks shown above) on January 22, 2007. For more information, visit the BOK’s web site dedicated to the new family of notes.

Courtesy of