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[Editorial] Considering the Inclusion of a Female in the New Bank Notes

[Editorial] Considering the Inclusion of a Female in the New Bank Notes

Posted April. 19, 2005 23:16,   


The Bank of Korea announced that new 5,000-won notes will be issued from the first half of next year, and new 10,000-won and 1,000-won notes from the first half of 2007. The notes’ size will be reduced, its colors changed to a more sophisticated style, and the forgery prevention function strengthened. It is expected that the current bank notes issued from 1983 will be changed after 20 years.

But the Bank of Korea has announced that to stop the increase of forgery and to prevent national division over the change of figures on the notes, the pictures of King Sejong the Great (10,000-won notes), Lee Yul-gok (5,000-won notes), and Lee Toe-gye (1,000-won notes) will continue to be used. There is opposition to this decision.

Bank notes are representative symbols of the nation that show its culture, sentiments, and technology in a glance. It is a “silent diplomat” that can be used by foreigners. Once changed, they are used for decades. Therefore, there is a need to review the possibility of changing the figures on the notes since the decision to issue new bank notes has already been made. If there is not even a discussion on the issue because it is a difficult decision and it entails additional costs, that in itself is leaving room for national division. We must not fall victim to administrative complacency. Various opinions on possible new figures are already emerging.

It is worth considering the inclusion of female figures on the new bank notes. Social participation and national contribution of Korean females are increasing. Some recommend Shin Saimdang and Yoo Gwan-soon. There are many more women who can be considered as candidates. Before discussing who to include, we must first hold public discussions and reach a consensus on whether or not a female figure will be put on the new bank notes.

Examples of female figures on their nation’s bank notes include the Italian doctor Montessori, Norwegian musician Flagstad, and Swedish Nobel laureate in literature Lagerlof. France selected the Polish scientist Curie who married a Frenchman. Last year, Japan put novelist Ichiyo Higuchi on its new 5,000-yen notes. Higuchi was selected though she died at the young age of 24. This shows that including a female on the notes itself is a symbolic gesture.

In Korea, there are also calls to include King Gwanggaeto, Ahn Jung-geun, Kim Gu, Jeong Yak-yong, and Jang Young-sil. Whatever the results, it is best to hold discussions on the issue. If we miss this chance for discussion, no one knows how long we will have to wait for the next opportunity.