Korean won (KRW)

The Korean won is the official currency in South Korea. Although it is also known as won or South Korean won, as opposed to the North Korean won (KPW).

The international ISO 4217 code for the South Korean won is KRW. As of this update (November 8, 2023), the equivalence of the Korean won currency with respect to the euro is:

  • 1 euro = 1,397.45 Korean won.
  • 1000 won = 0.72 euros

History of the Korean won

Korea was a state that had lived under the influence of its neighbors Japan and China.

In 1945, after World War II, Korea was divided into two sovereign states, North Korea and South Korea. By agreement of the two superpowers of the time, the USA and the USSR, their dividing line was set at the 38th parallel.

This division, the result of tensions between the two powers that supported each party, led to the Korean War in 1950.

South Korea - Japan Relationship Wikipedia
South Korea – Japan Relationship Wikipedia

With the division, both Koreas abandoned the japanese yen as legal tender and created their own currency, although they called them the same, won.

Currently, the Korean won is divided into 100 jeon (a currency that does not physically exist). The Bank of Korea, the Korean Central Bank, is the monetary authority in charge of issuing currency and banknotes in the country. On their website you can see the coins and notes that we show you below.

Korean won coins

The circulating coins of the Korean won have the following denominations:

  • 1 won,
  • 5 won,
  • 10 won,
  • 50 won,
  • 100 won and
  • 500 won.
South Korean won coins
South Korean won coins

There have been different issues of the 1, 5 and 10 won coins over time that coexist today.

Korean won banknotes

Banknotes introduced by the Central Bank of Korea (headquartered in Seoul) have the following denominations:

  • 1,000 KRW.
  • 2,000 KRW (commemorative. Low circulation)
  • 5,000 KRW
  • 10,000 KRW
  • 50,000 KRW.

The 500 won note was replaced by the 500 won coin, which was necessary for use in vending machines. There is a commemorative 2,000 KRW banknote with very little circulation in South Korea.

1,000 Korean won banknote

The 1000 KWR banknote was released in August 1975 and its third and last series to date is dated January 22, 2007.

It is a blue cotton banknote that measures 136 mm x 68 mm and on the obverse shows an image of Yi Hwang (1501-1570), a Korean philosopher and writer who studied Confucius. Behind him appears the Myungryundang reading room of the Jeonju Hyanggyo school that he founded and some plum branches (Prunus Mume).

1,000 Korean won banknote 1,000 KRW
1,000 Korean won banknote 1,000 KRW

The reverse shows the painting “Gaesang junggeodo” by the famous Korean painter Jeong Seon (1676-1759), which shows a building in a mountainous landscape where Yi Hwang stayed during his studies on Confucius.

The value of this 1000 won note in Portugal today is 0.67 euros.

2,000 Korean won banknote

This is a commemorative ticket for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Its color is gray and its size is 140 x 75 mm. The obverse shows a representative image of 7 sporting events of the Winter Games such as: curling, biathlon, ski jumping, ice hockey, speed skating, luge and luge.

2,000 Korean won banknote 2,000 KRW
2,000 Korean won banknote 2,000 KRW

On the back it shows a Korean tiger, a representative animal of the country and its mythology, today in danger of extinction. This 2,000 won note was issued in commemoration of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games and its equivalent value in euros today is 1.38 euros.

5,000 Korean won banknote

This banknote was born in June 1977. It is reddish in color and size 142 x 68 mm. Its latest series, the fifth, dates back to January 2006.

The obverse shows an image of Yulgok Yi I (1536-1584) and an image of black bamboo (Ojuk). Yi I was a Korean admiral and general who managed to defend his homeland from the Japanese raids of 1592 during the Joseon dynasty of Korea.

The background of this banknote shows the town of Ojukheon in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, birthplace of the most prominent Korean Confucian scholar of the Joseon Dynasty Yi I and his mother Shin Saimdang.

5,000 Korean won banknote 5,000 KRW
5,000 Korean won banknote 5,000 KRW

The reverse shows a painting with watermelons and insects made by Shin Saimdang. The equivalent value of this note today in Portugal is 3.35 euros.

1o,000 Korean won banknote

It was launched in June 1973 and its last edition to date, the fifth, dates from January 22, 2007. It is a cotton note, green in color and size 148 x 68 mm.

The obverse depicts Sejong “the Great” (1397-1450), monarch of the Joseon dynasty of Korea who ruled the country from 1418 until his death in 1450. Behind appears an Irworobongdo, a Korean folding screen with a stylized sun landscape. and moon, five peaks that were always placed behind Eojwa, the royal throne of the king during the Joseon Dynasty.

The text of the second chapter of Yongbieocheonga (“Songs of the Dragons Flying to the Sky”), the first work written in Hangul, also appears.

10,000 Korean won banknote 10,000 KRW
10,000 Korean won banknote 10,000 KRW

The reverse shows an armillary sphere, a medieval astronomical device to study the position of celestial bodies. Behind it appears Korean national treasure No. 228, an astronomical map carved in stone in the Fourth Year of King Taejo (1395), during the Choseon dynasty. The equivalent value of this note today in Portugal is 6.70 euros.

50,000 Korean won banknote

The first and only series of this banknote was released on June 23, 2009. It is yellow in color and has a size of 154 x 68 mm.

The obverse shows the image of Shin Saimdang (1504-1551), Korean artist, writer, calligrapher and poet. She was the mother of the Korean Confucian scholar Yulgok Yi I (Yi Yi). The reverse shows the Chochungdo, a folding screen of embroidered insects and plants in the background.

50,000 Korean won banknote 50,000 KRW
50,000 Korean won banknote 50,000 KRW

Euro to Korean Won exchange rate

If you search on Google for “euro to won exchange rate” you will find dozens of websites like Oanda (“currency converters”) that offer a “price” of the day.

You will also see this graph with the rates of that pair of currencies from Google Finance. Something like this (November 8, 2023):

Euro to South Korean won exchange rate 8 Nov 2023
Euro to South Korean won exchange rate 8 Nov 2023

As you can see, from 2018 to the present day, the Korean won has been experiencing a small devaluation against the euro until reaching a ceiling of 1,480 won per euro in 2023. Currently, its value is 1,397 won per euro.

Now, we must keep in mind that this graph represents the value of the won “currency” against the euro, and not that of the real currency (the “banknote” that we carry with us when we tour Korea), which is more low.

In fact, in the currency exchange branches in Portugal (casas de câmbio), today you can buy won at an exchange rate of around 1,178.25 KRW for each euro that Cambiator gives you or the poor 953.65 won per euro that they would give you at airports in Portugal (operated by Unicâmbio currency supplier). Nothing to do with the euro to won currency exchange of 1397 wons per euro today.

So, when you see these values on Google and other currency converters with your mobile, you should keep the following in mind:

-This is an unofficial rate, and therefore, not reliable. That is, if you click on the “Disclaimer” link, you get this warning from Google Finance: “Google cannot guarantee the accuracy of the exchange rates displayed. Please confirm current rates before conducting a transaction that may be affected by changes in exchange rates.”

-These rates you see are usually wholesale prices of the won against the euro currency (currency and banknotes of that currency are not the same).

-This rate can only be had between banks, that is, it is impossible to obtain it as an individual.

If you need wons in banknotes, you will have to go through the retail banknote market (bank or currency supplier). This means that the KRWs have had to be “transported” by someone for you to enjoy them (or purchased from travelers from South Korea passing through Portugal previously).

In short, moving banknotes from one place to another has logistical costs that will make their sale price (the exchange rate that whoever sells it to you apply) more expensive. And if the currency depreciates against the euro, the stock of won held by banks and currency suppluers depreciates (exchange rate risk).

The South Korean won is a currency that is not very abundant in Portugal. As a result of this, its price is more expensive in Portugal than in Korea.

If you decide to buy wons in Portugal, it is good to anticipate the purchase and reserve them online to get better rates and make sure that you will find them.

Where to exchange Korean Wons in Portugal

In Portugal the won can be changed in banks (not all have them), currency suppliers and suppliers at airports. Here’s what you need to know about the three options before buying or selling your KRW:

-The airport is by far the worst option because of the high price at which won are sold and bought. The currency suppliers that operate at the airport charge you a commission and then they charge you with the high exchange margins they apply. The profits from this lucrative are distributed between the airport manager and the currency supplier that operates at the airport.

-For their part, banks have the ugly habit of charging fees for practically everything, as you well know. In currency exchange, in addition to applying a margin on the purchase or sale of wons, they apply a commission of between 2.5 and 3% on the volume exchanged, with a minimum of between 6 and 10 euros. This means that currency exchange is not usually interesting in your bank, although that is what Cambiator is for, to show you the rates at which foreign currency is sold and bought on a daily basis.

-Finally, currency suppliers that do not operate at the airport do not usually charge you a commission if you purchase your wons online (home delivery or online reservation with collection at one of their offices in the city center). We recommend you check the rates of the currency suppliers that collaborate with Cambiator since they are quite competitive, and vary every day.

Euro to Korean Won exchange rate today

To find out the euro to Korean won exchange rate today, the best thing you can do is use our currency comparator.

  • Buy Korean won with euros (EUR-KRW)
  • Sell Korean won for euros (KRW-EUR)

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