The won (원, ; symbol: ₩; code: KRW) or the Korean Won is the currency of South Korea. A single won is divided into 100 jeon, the monetary subunit. The jeon is no longer used for everyday transactions, and appears only in foreign exchange rates. The won is issued by the Bank of Korea, based in the capital city of Seoul.
The old "won" was a cognate of the Chinese yuan and Japanese yen. It is derived from the hanja 圓 (원), meaning "currency" or "coin." The won was subdivided into 100 jeon, itself a cognate of the Chinese character 錢 (qián) which means "money" and also used as a unit of money in ancient times. The current won (1962 to present) is written in hangul only and does not officially have any hanja associated with it.
Prior to 1910, the won was the currency.
During the colonial era under the Japanese (1910-45), the won was replaced by the Korean yen which was at par with the Japanese Yen.
After World War II ended in 1945, Korea was divided, resulting in two separate currencies, both called won, for the South and the North. Both the Southern won and the Northern won replaced the yen at par. The first South Korean won was subdivided into 100 jeon.
The South Korean won initially had a fixed exchange rate to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 15 won to 1 dollar. A series of devaluations followed, the later ones, in part, due to the Korean War (1950-53). The pegs were:
The first South Korean won was replaced by the hwan on February 15, 1953 at a rate of 1 hwan = 100 won. Republic of Korea Banknotes 5th Edition
In 1946, the Bank of Joseon introduced 10- and 100-won notes. These were followed in 1949 by 5- and 1,000-won notes.
A new central bank, the Bank of Korea, was established on 12 June 1950, and assumed the duties of Bank of Joseon. Notes were introduced (some dated 1949) in denominations of 5, 10 and 50 jeon, and 100 and 1,000 won. The 500-won notes were introduced in 1952. In 1953, a series of banknotes was issued which, although it gave the denominations in English in won, were, in fact, the first issues of the hwan.