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The End of the 50,000 Won Note: Over 483 Million Damaged Banknotes Worth 3.9 Yen

483.85 million copies, worth 3.9 yen
If you stick each sheet together, it is 16 times as tall as Mt. Everest.
Face-to-face transactions increase and the lifespan of the 50,000 won note comes to an end

Banknote damaged by moisture. Photo provided by Bank of Korea

Last year, the amount of money that was burned or wet due to moisture reached 483.85 million, an increase of 17.2% in just one year. As face-to-face economic activities increased after COVID-19, the use of currency increased, and the currency was damaged as the ‘50,000 won note’, first issued in 2009, reached the end of its distribution life.

On the 24th, the Bank of Korea announced that the number of damaged currency scrapped in 2023 was 483.85 million, an increase of 71.17 million (17.2%) compared to the previous year (412.68 million). In terms of amount, it increased by 46.9% from 2.6414 trillion won to 3.8803 trillion won. This means that currency damage has increased, especially on high-denomination bills. Among the recovered currencies, the Bank of Korea disposes of those that are unsuitable for currency due to damage or contamination.

If the volume discarded last year were pieced together, it would amount to 62,872km, which is 16 times higher than Mount Everest (8,849m) and 253 times higher than Lotte World Tower (555m). The amount of bank notes discarded was 427.32 million, with 10,000 won notes (237.75 million) accounting for 55.6% of the total damaged currency. 1,000 won notes accounted for 33.6% with 143.69 million units, 50,000 won notes accounted for 5.8% with 24.93 million units, and 5,000 won notes accounted for 4.9% with 20.95 million units. The amount of coin waste was 56.53 million, with 100 won coins accounting for 60% of the total.

The reason for the rapid increase in damaged currency is that the use of currency increased as commerce recovered after the spread of COVID-19 subsided. The amount of currency recovered also increased due to the rise in market interest rates. The redemption rate for 50,000 won notes issued last year was 67.1%, the highest in five years.

In particular, the number of damaged notes increased as the circulation life of the 50,000 won notes first issued in June 2009 gradually came to an end. According to the ‘2022 Bank Note Distribution Life Estimation Results’ announced by the Bank of Korea, the distribution life of a 50,000 won note is 181 months (15 years and 1 month). It is expected that the number of impaired rights will gradually increase, focusing on the initial issuance volume.

Large-scale damage due to fire or moisture continues. Ms. Lee, who lives in Seoul, lost 19.1 million won in bank notes after a fire at her home. Ms. Hong, who lives in Jeollanam-do, also exchanged 15,475,000 won worth of bank notes that had been buried in her ground and rotted from moisture at the Bank of Korea. A case also emerged in Gwangju where 3,391,000 won worth of damaged coins collected from a pond were exchanged.

If a bank note is damaged and unusable due to a fire, etc., the Bank of Korea exchanges it for the full face amount if the remaining area is more than three-quarters, and half the face amount if the remaining area is less than two-fifths to three-quarters.

2024-01-24 03:00:00
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