As money is an indispensable part of people’s lives, it is a good medium through which we can better understand a culture. In my blog post dated 6 May 2017, I have talked about the stories behind the Korean banknotes which are related to people who have made significant contribution to the Korean culture. On the other hand, you may better understand the development of a culture by studying the history of development of money used by it. In South Korea, there are two museums to which you may go to better understand the development of Korean money.
Bank of Korea Money Museum (한국은행 화폐박물관)
The Bank of Korea Money Museum is in the Namdaemum area which is close to the Namdaemum Market and Myeongdong. Before entering the museum, please do take a closer look at the building in which the museum is housed. The building is a Renaissance-style building which is representative of the early days of Japanese occupation of Korea and was designated as National Historic Site in 1981. In the museum, you can learn more about the Korean money and also money of the overseas countries. The museum is divided into the following 4 zones:
ZONE 1 – This zone introduces the Bank of Korea, the central bank of South Korea, e.g., background/purpose of its establishment, the work it does, its organization and management, and the origin of the central banking system;
ZONE 2 – This zone introduces different aspects of currency, e.g., the manufacturing and circulation process of currency, identification of counterfeits, etc.;
ZONE 3 – This zone introduces the monetary and credit policies of the Bank of Korea through video clips, models and computer games, and you may better understand the role of the central bank in the economic development of Korea; and
ZONE 4 – This zone displays the currency of Korea from ancient times to modern days. There are also rare currencies from around the world on display here. You may try to see if you can find the currency of your own country here.
You can have a quick tour of the Bank of Korea Museum by watching this video. Please note the museum is closed on Mondays and certain public holidays.
Currency Museum of Korea (화폐박물관)
The Currency Museum of Korea is located in Daejeon, which is about 50 minutes by KTX train from Seoul. The museum has a collection of about 120,000 pieces, e.g., coins from ancient times to modern days (including Korean, Chinese, Roman and Greek coins), commemorative coins, postage stamps, medals, and currencies from over 120 different countries (it’s highly likely that you will find the currency of your own country here). You can find some interesting ancient coins like shell money, fish-shaped coins and sword-shaped coins here. There are also exhibitions displaying a wide variety of banknotes and explaining the production process of a banknote and the security features.
You can have a quick tour of this museum by watching this video (with English sub-titles). Please note that this museum is closed on Mondays and public holidays.
It’s interesting to learn about the history of money in the above money-related museums, especially when you can see coins from ancient times which may be very different from the ones we use today. Next time you go to South Korea, you may visit these museums. Enjoy! 🙂
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“Bank of Korea Money Museum“, Korea Tourism Organization
“Currency Museum of Korea“, Korea Tourism Organization