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    Currency in South Korea

    A practical currency and money guide to travel, living and doing business in South Korea and the South Korean won (KRW).


    What currency is used in South Korea?

    The official currency of South Korea (country code: KR) is the South Korean won, with symbol and currency code KRW.

    Things to know about the South Korean won

    The won replaced the South Korean hwan at an exchange rate of 1 hwan to 100 won in 1953 following the Korean war. The won is subdivided into 100 jeon.

    A single unit of won is worth little in comparison with the currencies of other advanced economies. Between 1990 and 2017, to buy a single US dollar always required at least ₩900. At points of major won weakness – December 1997 and March 2009 – buying a single US dollar required ₩1900 won and ₩1600 respectively.

    Given the almost worthless value of won and jeon coins, in 2017 the South Korean government began a trial with selected stores intended to move the country towards being a coinless society. These stores no longer return coins to customers but instead deposit the coins’ value onto prepaid cards, such as those used by South Koreans on public buses and trains.

    Despite the South Korean economy being larger than that of Australia and far larger than those of Switzerland and New Zealand, as well as being advanced, the won is considered a far riskier currency to hold than any of the FX ‘majors’ – a group which includes the Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar and Swiss franc.

    This is in large part due to the ever-present strain between North and South Korea, which frequently threatens to spill over into a military conflict. For this reason, the won’s value typically falls against these majors (especially the Japanese yen, Swiss franc, US dollar, euro and British pound) during periods of economic uncertainty or when global geopolitical risk is elevated, or during bouts of high market volatility.

    An example South Korean won banknote


    Travel Ideas and Money Tips for South Korea

    South Korea is a country in East Asia, located on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. It is bordered by North Korea to the north, the East China Sea to the east, the Yellow Sea to the west, and the Sea of Japan to the south. The capital and largest city is Seoul, with a population of over 10 million people.

    South Korea is a developed country with a high standard of living. It is home to some of the world's largest companies, such as Samsung and LG, and has a highly skilled workforce. The country is also known for its vibrant pop culture, which includes K-pop, K-dramas, and K-beauty.

    South Korea is an excellent destination for travelers and expats alike. It has something to offer everyone, from its lively cities to its stunning natural scenery.

    Best things to do and see in South Korea

    There are many things to do and see in South Korea. Here are some of the best:

    1. Visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

    The DMZ is a 4-kilometer wide strip of land that runs along the border between North and South Korea. It is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world.

    2. Tour the JSA (Joint Security Area)

    The JSA is the only place where North and South Korean soldiers stand face-to-face. It is located in the DMZ.

    3. Visit the Korean War Memorial

    The Korean War Memorial is located in Seoul. It is a tribute to the soldiers who fought in the Korean War.

    4. Tour the DMZ Museum

    The DMZ Museum is located in the DMZ. It is a Museum dedicated to the history of the DMZ.

    5. Visit the Seorak Mountain National Park

    The Seorak Mountain National Park is located in the Gangwon Province. It is one of the most beautiful places in South Korea.

    6. Tour the Namsan Tower

    The Namsan Tower is located in Seoul. It is a radio and television tower.

    7.Visit the Inje Speedium

    The Inje Speedium is a car racing track located in the Inje County. It is one of the most popular attractions in South Korea.

    8. Visit the Jeju Island

    The Jeju Island is a volcanic island located off the coast of South Korea. It is a popular tourist destination.

    9. Visit the Seoul Olympic Park

    The Seoul Olympic Park is located in Seoul. It was the site of the 1988 Summer Olympics.

    10. Visit the Bukchon Hanok Village

    The Bukchon Hanok Village is located in Seoul. It is a traditional Korean village.

    Top Travel tips for South Korea

    If you're planning a trip to South Korea, here are a few travel tips to help you make the most of your experience:

    1. Start your trip in Seoul, the country's capital and largest city. From here, you can easily explore the rest of the country by public transportation.

    2. South Korea is a very safe country to travel to, so don't hesitate to venture off the beaten path and explore.

    3. Be sure to try the local food! Korea is famous for its kimchi and BBQ, but there are many other delicious dishes to try as well.

    4. When shopping, haggling is expected and is a great way to get a good deal.

    5. Be aware of the language barrier and carry a travel dictionary with you. While many Koreans do speak some English, not all of them do.

    6. Be respectful of local customs and traditions. For example, take your shoes off when entering someone's home or a temple.

    7. Finally, enjoy your trip! South Korea is a beautiful country with a lot to offer.

    What's the best way to pay in South Korea?

    Contactless payments are becoming increasingly popular in South Korea. Many stores and restaurants will accept payments through Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, or Google Pay. Credit cards are also widely accepted, although you may be charged an additional fee for using one.

    While there are ATMs everywhere in big cities like Seoul, they can be sometimes hard to find in the villages, so if you plan to stray a little off the beaten path, be prepared to take plenty of local currency with you. Even in Seoul not all ATMs will work with foreign cards, be sure to check that it is specially marked for Global Cards. Mobil payments are wildly popular with the youth in South Korea. SO load your credit cards onto your smartphones and leave your credit cards back at the hotel when you go out in big cities. That said, always carry a bit of cash on you for tips or smaller restaurants and street food.



    Expat Money & Business Guide to South Korea

    Managing your money effectively while living and working abroad can be challenging, but there are several steps you can take to ensure that your finances are in order.

    By following these tips and managing your money effectively, you can reduce financial stress and enjoy your experience living or doing business in South Korea.

    How is the cost of living in South Korea?

    The cost of living in South Korea is relatively high when compared to other countries in Asia. In terms of transportation, food, and accommodation, South Korea is more expensive than China, Japan, and Thailand. However, it is important to note that the cost of living in South Korea varies depending on the city. Seoul, the capital city, is known for its high cost of living, while smaller cities and rural areas are generally more affordable.

    What are the limits to foreigners when buying Property in South Korea?

    There are no limits when acquiring property but you are required to register your purchase to local authorities within 60 days.

    Purchases are subject to 10% VAT and 2% Acquisition fee.

    Agents charge fees roughly between 0.4 - 0.9%.

    How is the expat life in South Korea?

    There is a large expat community in South Korea, and many people find the expat life to be enjoyable. There are plenty of things to do and see, and the food is excellent. The cost of living can be high, but it is possible to find affordable housing and transportation.

    Any laws in South Korea that foreigners should be aware of?

    All foreigners are required to carry their passport at all times. In addition, foreigners are required to register with the local immigration office within 90 days of arrival.

    What is doing business like in South Korea?

    South Korea is a very competitive market, so businesses have to be innovative and offer unique products and services to be successful. There is a lot of competition for consumers' attention and businesses need to stand out to be successful. There is also a lot of regulation in South Korea, so businesses need to be familiar with the relevant laws and regulations.

    How is the economy in South Korea?

    The economy of South Korea is a highly developed mixed economy dominated by family-owned conglomerates called chaebols. The South Korean economy is the 4th largest in Asia and the 11th largest in the world.

    Managing your finances in South Korea

    Here we list some key points for expats and businesses to consider when managing financial dealings in South Korea:

    1. Understand South Korean won currency exchange rates: Exchange rates can have a big impact on your finances, so it is important to keep an eye on the KRW exchange rate and consider using a currency exchange service or a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees to get the best exchange rate.

    2. Use a local South Korean won bank account: A local KRW bank account can make it easier for you to manage your finances and pay bills while you are in South Korea. It may also be more convenient to use a local KRW bank account to make purchases and withdraw cash.

    3. Research local laws and regulations: It is important to understand the local laws and regulations that apply to financial transactions in South Korea. This can help you avoid legal issues and ensure that you are complying with local requirements.

    4. Consider the tax implications: It is important to understand the tax implications of living or doing business in South Korea. This can help you plan your finances and ensure that you are paying the correct amount of tax.

    5. Seek financial advice: If you are unsure of how to manage your finances in South Korea, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a financial professional who is familiar with the local financial system. This can help you make informed decisions and avoid financial pitfalls.


    USD/KRW – Market Data

    The exchange rate of South Korean won (KRW), or the amount of KRW that can be exchanged for a foreign currency, can fluctuate rapidly based on a number of factors, including economic conditions, interest rates, and political events. Below you can check the latest USD/KRW rate plus recent trend, chart, forecasts and historic rates.

    1 USD = 1323.4 KRW
    Sell USD  →  Buy KRW
    USD to KRW at 1323 is just above its 3-month average, having traded in a quite stable 4.6% range from 1284 to 1343
    USDKRW :

    12 May 2023
    1.4% 2 Week
    25 Feb 2023
    0.7% 3 Month
    26 May 2022
    5% 1 Year
    27 May 2018
    23.1% 5 Year
    28 May 2013
    17.4% 10 Year
    31 May 2003
    9.8% 20 Year
    USD/KRW historic rates & change to 26-May-2023



    What are USD to KRW forecasts?

    Based on the recent FX analyst forecasts and exchange rate updates, there seem to be mixed signals for the future of the USD to KRW exchange rate. The Federal Reserve is hinting at the end of its interest rate hikes cycle, which could weaken the USD over the long term. However, in the short term, the economic uncertainty caused by the regional banking crisis in the US may cause market participants to price rate cuts from the Fed to stop regional bank bleeding and likely the US economy very soon. This could cause the USD to continue sideways in May without a clear direction. Nevertheless, a poor US or global economic performance would help the USD increase as a haven currency.

    On the other hand, South Korea has avoided a technical recession as GDP expanded 0.3% QoQ in 1Q23, thanks to upside surprises from private consumption and exports. This positive economic performance may support the KRW and potentially weaken the USD to KRW exchange rate, but it remains to be seen how the ongoing global economic uncertainty will affect South Korea's trade-dependent economy.

    Overall, economists expect the US dollar's strength over the past year to eventually reverse in 2023 as the Fed's interest rate hikes cycle finally comes to an end. However, in the short term, the direction of the USD to KRW exchange rate is uncertain and may be influenced by various economic and geopolitical factors.

    USD/KRW forecasts USD/KRW rates


    Compare South Korean won Exchange Rates & Fees

    The below comparison table makes it easy to find the best exchange rates and lowest fees when you want to make an International Money Transfer to South Korea or planning a trip or maybe living there, so will need to exchange and spend South Korean won.

    Loading comparison rates...


    It is important to note that the exchange rate of the South Korean won can change rapidly and that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance. It is advisable to carefully consider the risks and factors that may affect KRW exchange rates before making any financial decisions.





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