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Mixed Feelings Follow Debut of New W50,000 Bill

Posted June. 24, 2009 08:57,   


The Korean public has mixed feelings over the release of the 50,000 won bill (38.88 U.S. dollars), with a variety of pros and cons expressed in the wake of the higher denomination’s debut yesterday.

Many welcomed the new bill, citing convenience and value. Critics, however, complained over potential drawbacks.

People began visiting banks to get the new bill from 9 a.m., when banks open. In the afternoon, many lined up in front of automated teller machines at certain banks.

Hwang Yoo-mi, a worker at an international bank, said, “I think bills released early in the morning on their first day of circulation will give me luck.”

Banks, however, had only one cash machine that could handle the new bill, while some bank branches lacked new machines.

Naysayers warn that the 50,000 won bill will weaken the Korean currency’s value, which in turn could burden those who give money as gifts at weddings or Lunar New Year’s Day.

Office worker Kim Su-yeon said, “Due to the release of the 50,000 won bill, I’ll have to give at least 50,000 won at weddings.”

A Daegu resident said, “The new bill looks like a gift certificate, not money.”

The retail distribution industry hopes that the circulation of the new bill boosts consumption. Lotte Department Store will hold a sales event Friday for fashion items such as handbags, shoes and clothes for 50,000 won.

Shinsegae Department Store will exchange all kinds of bills for new 50,000 won bills for 200 visitors on a first-come, first-served basis Friday through Sunday. It will also sell certain cosmetics and accessories for 50,000 won.

Lee Jae-jin, the head of the marketing team for Shinsegae’s Gangnam branch, said, “Consumers will spend more since they can now buy more items with only one bill.”

The Bank of Korea said the new bill will help banks save 320 billion won (248.8 million dollars) per year in printing and maintenance costs through the gradual phase out of bank checks with a face value of 100,000 won (77.76 dollars).

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