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Exchange rates last updated Tuesday, 05 February 2019 11:15:17 AM EST. The online exchange rates provided by this Currency Converter are intended as a guide only and should not be used for transactional purposes. All rates are subject to change from time to time without notice. Exchange rates used in-store may differ from those offered online. The Travelex online sell rate will be used for conversions from US Dollars to a foreign currency.
The latest on USD to KRW exchange rates
The lowdown on the South Korean won
The South Korean won gets its name from a deviation of the Chinese yuan and the Japanese yen, both of which refer to the ‘round shape’ of the coins.
During Korea’s days as a Japanese colony in the early 20th century, the national currency was the Korean yen, which exchanged on par with the Japanese yen of the time. At the end of WWII in 1945, Korea became divided into two halves: North Korea and South Korea, and two new currencies of North Korean won and South Korean won replaced the Korean yen on par.
The symbol for the South Korean won is the rather fun looking ₩.
A look back at US dollar to South Korean won rates
When the won was first introduced in 1945, it was pegged to the Japanese yen at a rate of one won to one yen. In October of 1945, it was pegged instead to the US dollar at a rate of 15 won to one dollar. However, by the end of the Korean War in 1953, the won had devalued all the way to 6000 won to one dollar and the hwan was introduced to replace the won at a rate of one hwan to 100 won.
Introduction of the hwan
The hwan was introduced on February 15, 1953 and was pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 60 hwan to one dollar. However, the hwan suffered the same inflation as the previous won and by 1962, it had been devalued to 1250 hwan to the dollar. On June 10, 1962, the won was reintroduced again at a rate of one won to 10 hwan, and pegged at a rate of 125 won to one US dollar.
Return of the won
After the won was reintroduced in 1962, the currency remained pegged to the US dollar all the way up until December 24, 1997, although the peg was moved several times: to 255 won in May 1964, 400 won in August 1972, 480 in December 1974 and 580 in January of 1980. On February 27, 1980, the idea of a floating exchange rate was initiated, which was finally put in place by 1997. However, the impact of the East Asian financial crisis saw the won almost immediately devalue to nearly half of its value against the dollar and by January 1998, a third of Korea's merchant banks had been shut down.
South Korean won after 1997
Throughout 1998, South Korea began to recover from the Asian Financial Crisis, through a combination of labor adjustments and funding from outside sources. In December of 1999, President Kim Dae-jung declared that the currency crisis was over and the economy was truly recovering. The won continued at a steady pace until 2007 when, just like much of the rest of the world, the global economy crisis affected the value of the won and devalued it to 1569 won to one US dollar by 6 March 2009. However, South Korea made a strong economic rebound unlike other countries and the won has been relatively even at around 1000 won to the dollar ever since.