Etymology of the Korean currencies

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The won is the currency of both North and South Korea. Won is a cognate of the Chinese currency unit, the yuan, and the Japanese currency unit, the yen, meaning "round object". The won is subdivided into 100 jeon (전; 錢; McCune-Reischauer: chŏn; Revised Romanization: jeon).

Yang is a former Korean currency. It is a cognate of the Chinese tael (pronounced "liǎng" in Chinese). The yang was subdivided into 100 fun (pronounced "pun" but spelt with an "f" on the coins). Fun (푼) is a cognate of the Chinese word fen (分 fēn), referring to 1/100 of a Chinese yuan in modern context.


Due to interchanging Chinese and Japanese influences, changing Romanization methods, and the use of both hanja (Sino-Korean characters) and hangul scripts, the etymology can be hard to understand.

From 1892 to 1902, when the yang was used, 1 hwan/won (圜 = 圓 in Chinese) = 5 yang (兩), while in the Chinese monetary system of that time, 1 yuan (圓) = 0.72 tael (兩).

In 1902, the Dai-Ichi Bank (The First National Bank of Japan), which handled the Korean government's custom duties, obtained permission from the imperial Korean government to issue banknotes in yen replacing yang.[1]

The table below summarizes the language used on the modern circulating and historical Korean currencies.

Period Subunit Main unit Super unit Note
English Hanja Hangul Ratio English Hanja Hangul English Hanja Hangul Ratio
1892-1902 fun 1/100 yang hwan 5
1902-1910 chon 1/100 won None 1 won = 5 yang of the previous period
1902-1945 sen N/A 1/100 yen N/A None 1 yen = 1 won = 5 yang
Due to the Japanese rule, the English transliterations were based on Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters.
North Korea
chon 1/100 won None 1 won = 1 yen in 1945
1 new won = 1 old won in 1959.
Use of Hanja disappeared after 1959
South Korea
chon 1/100 won None 1 won = 1 yen
South Korea
chon 1/100 hwan None 1 hwan = 100 won of the previous period
South Korea
jeon 1/100 won N/A[2] None 1 won = 10 hwan of the previous period
Bold = what was actually printed on the notes or engraved on the coins

Use in the Western World

The word jeon is also used in Korean to translate the word "cent," and in this context is associated with bul (불, 弗), meaning "dollar." (The hanja character resembles the symbol "$".) These two words are used by Koreans living in the Western hemisphere when referring to dollar currencies.

Sign and computing

The won sign ("₩", a capital W with a horizontal stroke) is represented in Unicode at the code point 20A9 (8361 in decimal).

See also


  1. ^ Mun, U-Sik; Yi, Yŏng-sŏp (2012). Asian Monetary Integration: Coping with a New Monetary Order After the Global Crisis. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 18. ISBN 1781009155.
  2. ^ Bank of Korea. "화폐 (in Korean). Retrieved 2012-11-24. 한글로만 표기" → Translation: "Spelling in hangul only
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Etymology of the Korean currencies"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA