Buying K-Beauty Stuff in Korea? Learn to Read Korean Won Money the Easy Way

For those who are new to everything Korean, or for those who need to brush up on their Korean travel smarts, here’s a quick and easy guide for you on how to read South Korean Won (KRW).

The ‘won’ is the currency of South Korea.

In Korean: 원 (won)
Code: KRW

Major comparison will be done with USA dollar as a prime example when explaining conversion rates.

How to read South Korean won:

1. Dollar Notes: Take off the last ‘3’ numbers and there is your $ value. For example ₩10,000 = $10.

2. Coins: Take off ‘1’ number and there is your $ value. For example ₩100 = $0.10.

3. The US dollar is in most cases always higher in value than KRW, so if you transfer $50 USD it will be approximately 58,000 KRW.

How to read Dollar Notes:

There are 4 different notes, and they are pretty and colorful.

₩1000 = $1 USD, Blue-colored note

File:1000 won serieIII obverse.jpeg

₩5000 = $5 USD, Orange-colored note

File:5000 won serieV obverse.jpeg

₩10,000 = $10 USD, Green-colored note

File:10000 won serieVI obverse.jpeg

₩50,000 = $50 USD, Yellow-colored note

File:50000 KRW 2009 ob.jpg

How to read Coins:

There are 4 different coins used, its easy to remember because the value is in proportion to the size of the actual coin. The smallest coin is worth 1 cent, whilst the biggest coin is worth 50 cents.

₩10 = $0.01 USD (1 cent), Pagoda building & copper colored

File:10 won 2006 obverse.jpeg File:10 won 2006 reverse.jpeg

₩50 = $0.05 USD (5 cents), Stalk of rice crop

File:50 won 1983 obverse.jpeg File:50 won 1983 reverse.jpeg

₩100 = $0.10 USD (10 cents), Person (Leader Yi)

File:100 won 1983 obverse.jpeg File:100 won 1983 reverse.jpeg

₩500 = $0.50 USD (50 cents), Red-crowned crane

File:500 won 1982 obverse.jpeg File:500 won 1982 reverse.jpeg

Extra Reading Tip:

Don’t get confused between Japanese Yen ($10 = 1000 Yen) and Korean Won ($10 = 10,000 Won). South Korea has three (3) zeros to remove, and in Japan it’s only two (2) zeros.


How to Convert:

My favorite and most reliant currency conversion tool is XE Currency (

Xe Currency

Or if you just Google search it, Google also brings up their currency conversion tool.

Google Currency

Best way to transfer money to Korea or get money out whilst in Korea?

I can’t recommend this enough, get Citibank. Seriously.

Citibank Debit Card

There is a Citibank ATM in almost every subway station in Korea with clear instructions in English. You only need to pay the currency rate difference and no transfer fees, and you don’t have to pay an annoying fixed monthly membership fee. The maximum amount you can withdraw is $300 USD per day, but that is plenty. I usually use the KRW money on buying street food, alcoholic drinks, club entry fees, T-Money card (taxi/subway/bus), coffee shops, street clothing and at convenient stores.

When you are going out shopping, booking hotels, or eating out at a fancy restaurant, use your credit card so you can earn points on your card i.e. American Express. There’s no point carrying a wad of $1000 in your pocket around Seoul, you can easily lose it if you aren’t careful with your belongings in the midst of the city rush.

All Citibank ATM Locations in South Korea:

If there is anything else you would like me to cover, please let me know in the comments below <3

Happy traveling in South Korea!


Images from Wikipedia