South Korea’s currency is the South Korean Won (KRW), which is written in Hangul.
Bills are available in denominations of 1,000 (blue), 5,000 (red), 10,000 (green), and 50,000. (yellow). The 50,000 is extremely useful if you need to carry about a considerable sum of cash, but it may be difficult to spend for products or services worth less than 10,000. The 50,000 is difficult to come by and is often only available at ATMs that show an image of the yellow note on the exterior.
100,000 “checks” are commonly utilized, with some checks having a value of up to ten million. These checks are issued privately by banks and may be used in place of cash for bigger transactions like hotel rooms.
Coins are often available in denominations of 10, 50, 100, and 500. There are very uncommon 1 and 5 coins. In general, it is uncommon to purchase anything for less than 100.
Banking & Payment
- Credit card acceptance is extremely excellent at stores, hotels, and other businesses, and all but the cheapest restaurants and lodgings take Visa and MasterCard. Even modest expenditures, such as 4,000 for a cup of coffee, are acceptable. This works well since credit cards offer excellent conversion rates; but, if you are using a foreign card, check with your bank to verify that there is no charge for this international transaction.
- ATMs are widely available, however using a foreign card with them is hit-or-miss, with the exception of foreign bank ATMs such as Citibank. There are, however, numerous Global ATMs that take international cards. They may usually be obtained at Shinhan/Jeju Bank, airports, places visited by foreigners, large cities, certain metro stations, and many Family Mart convenience shops, as indicated by the “Foreign Cards” button on the screen. However, before traveling to the countryside, make sure you have a backup source of money, such as cash, since international cards are less likely to be accepted. For international cards, certain banks, such as Citibank, charge a fee of 3,500.
- T-Money card are an alternate form of payment that is frequently accepted, particularly for transportation. This card is available in Seoul at most metro stations, as well as numerous newspaper kiosks near subway entrances and convenience shops (7/11, CU, GS25). The card itself costs 3,000, and cash may be filled with credit as many times as you like. After that, you may receive your credit back in cash, minus a 500 return charge. Place the card on the reader while entering and exiting the bus/subway in Seoul. Be careful that on buses, particularly in rural areas, just putting it once upon entering is sufficient; otherwise, you will be charged twice – simply watch what the locals do. Using this card will save you 100 per journey on Seoul’s public transportation system, and it accounts for changes between subway, (airport) train, and bus for up to 30 minutes, i.e. instead of paying each single trip, a smaller amount or 0 is deducted the second, third, and so on, depending on the distance. Purchasing this card may not be cheaper for most visitors spending less than two weeks in Korea or Seoul, but consider this: it can be used nationwide for taxi fares, buses, storage lockers, pay phones, (convenience) shops, restaurants, and most transportation systems. There are other cards available, particularly outside of Seoul, and topping up T-Money may be difficult, but at Shinhan/Jeju Bank (remember the logo), it should always be feasible. Due to the Korean-only menus/buttons, you may need to ask the local cashier for assistance.
- Bank account If you want to remain in South Korea for an extended period of time, you should open a local account with a Korean bank such as Woori Bank, which may then be used at the bank’s ATMs across the nation. (Some non-local accounts, for example, Woori Bank accounts opened in China come with an ATM card that may be used at any Woori Bank ATMs in South Korea.) Many banks may even enable you to establish an account while on a tourist visa, but the services you will be able to access will often be restricted. Some of the bigger banks may have English-speaking employees on staff at their main branches.
South Korea is quite costly in comparison to other Asian nations, although it is slightly less expensive in comparison to other contemporary industrialized countries such as Japan and the majority of Western countries. A thrifty traveler who loves eating, living, and traveling in Korea may easily get by on less than 60,000 per day, but if you want top-class accommodations and Western cuisine, even 200,000/day would not enough. Seoul is more costly than the rest of the nation, and has been especially so in recent years as it competes with Tokyo in many respects, although this has lessened since the financial crisis.
Tipping is not anticipated in South Korea and is not done by the Korean people. It may be considered an insult among Koreans since it is viewed as charity, although people are usually aware of American tipping culture and would be accepting of a foreigner doing this.
Many hotels and a few tourist eateries impose a 10% service fee on their invoices. Bellhops, hotel cleaners, taxi drivers, and Westerners’ favorite bars will not turn down any gratuities.
Restaurants may provide free food or beverages to guests as a gesture of charity or to reward customer loyalty. This is referred to colloquially as “service.”
You may receive a voucher and have a significant proportion of your taxes reimbursed at select retail establishments that have a “Tax Free Shopping” or a “Tax Refund Shopping” sign. When leaving South Korea, proceed to customs and get your passport stamped, then head to the “Global Refund Korea” or “Korea Tax Refund” kiosks near the duty-free stores. However, in order to get a refund, you must depart within three months after purchase.
Outdoor markets are notorious for their bartering, which applies to all they have to offer. However, expressing a monetary value would be incorrect. ssage juseyo is what you would normally say. That translates to “cheaper, please.” This may be done once or twice. The disadvantage is that you will seldom be offered more than a few dollars off.
- Ginseng: Korea is the world’s ginseng (insam) capital. It may be found in unique mountain regions across Korea and is widely thought to have therapeutic qualities. Ginseng tea and other items are popular, as is a thick black paste produced from ginseng. Ginseng comes in a variety of grades, with the finest grades capable of earning millions of dollars at auction. Gyeongdong Herbal Medicine Market in Seoul is an excellent location to learn about the many kinds of ginseng.
- Traditional items: Visitors searching for souvenirs can discover a broad range of options. At the many marketplaces and souvenir stores, you may discover a blue-jade celadon from the Goryeo Dynasty, handmade traditional costumes, paper kites, and ceramic items with patterns that represent human emotions. The first location to shop in Seoul would be Insadong. After a time, one shop may seem to resemble every other store, but chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for.
- Fashion: Every weekend, consumers and boutique owners alike rush to the streets and marketplaces to keep up with the newest trends. Fashion centers, which are mostly concentrated in Seoul and include famous locations such as Dongdaemun, Mok dong Rodeo Street, and Myeong dong, may be classified into two broad categories: marketplaces and department shops. Markets are inexpensive, and each store will sell fashionable, comparable apparel that appeals to the people. Also, keep in mind that most shirts cannot be tried on. So it’s a good idea to know your size before going shopping there. Though department shops may offer discount sections or floors, they are regarded expensive and appeal mainly to an older, richer clientele.
- Antiques: Jangangpyeong Antique Market in Seoul is a great place to find antique furniture, calligraphic works, pottery, and books. Be cautious, since goods older than 50 years are not permitted to leave the country.
- Electronics: They are readily accessible, particularly in major cities like as Seoul and Busan. South Korea has the majority of the most recent technologies accessible in most Western nations, as well as much more. In reality, South Korea is likely to be second only to Japan in terms of consumer technology. However, you would most likely have to deal with instruction manuals and functionalities written in Korean.
- K-Pop: South Korea was the birthplace of the hallyu (“Korean wave”) phenomenon that swept East Asia at the turn of the century, so you may want to purchase the newest Korean music CDs by famous K-pop artists and groups – and discover some of the lesser-known. The majority of music is now consumed as digital downloads, although there are still some music stores that offer CDs. And, of course, there is no better location to view them in person than South Korea.
- K-Drama: In Asia, Korean drama is very popular, and a boxed DVD set of a drama can keep you entertained for many rainy days. Check to see whether the DVD set has subtitles in your preferred language. You may probably get the same Korean drama dubbed in another Asian language, such as Cantonese or Mandarin, outside of Korea. Drama serials and movies released in South Korea, on the other hand, are typically made for the Korean market and do not include subtitles. Furthermore, since South Korea is in DVD region 3, discs purchased here will play in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia, but not in North America, Europe, mainland China, Japan, or Australia. If you decide to purchase, make sure your DVD player can play it. It’s worth noting that CDs and DVDs are no longer widely used in South Korea, with the younger generation having shifted to digital downloads some time ago.