New South Korean 50,000 won notes draw complaints
Worth about $38, the new notes debued on June 23, amid both hopes and worries as Korea goes all out to boost private consumption while warnings grow over the risk of inflation on a global scale.
Controversy erupted shortly after the introduction. Local media took issue with the "windowed security thread," which the Bank of Korea billed as one of the cutting-edge anti-counterfeiting features of the new notes. Some parts of the strip appear to be a series of silver dashes on the paper surface.
The paper on which the strip is embedded separates a bit at the end, which reports suggested may be a defect that may cause problems with automatic teller machines.
"A test conducted by the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corp. showed that there is no problem using 50,000 won notes at ATMs, even when the paper-separation phenomenon happens," Lee Nae-hwang, a BOK official said yesterday in response to these reports.
"But please do not intentionally separate (the security strip in notes) out of curiosity."
The new notes, five times more valuable than the 10,000-won notes which have been the country’s highest denomination bill for 37 years, are designed to be distinctively different from the existing notes, BOK officials explained. They are the longest in size and the first to feature a woman.
Still, some find it little confusing.
A citizen complained on the BOK’s website: "I still have trouble telling 1,000 won notes from 10,000-won notes when the lights are dim. The new 50,000-won notes also look much too similar to 5,000-won bills."
The 50,000 won notes have the color of golden yellow, while 5,000-won bills have red and yellow. Other paper notes have blue or green.
A citizen posted comments to the website of the Bank of Korea, complaining that supermarkets and small shops have to prepare more small change in case customers pay by the 50,000 wonnotes for a cheap item.
Meanwhile, associations for the visually-impaired were busy helping blind people become familiar with the new notes. The BOK plans to supply banknote gauges which should help them to identify four different banknotes. "They will be released within the month," officials said.
At an online marketplace Auction, the daily sale of forgery testers soared threefold since the introduction of the new bills, company officials said. -ANN