Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Wonderful Won

The currency in Korea is won and it has taken some getting used to. This is because everything sounds expensive as a result of most items costing thousands of won.

Won denominations are as follows: coins 10, 50, 100, 500, and notes 1 000, 5 000, 10 000 and the big 50 000. Hmmm but what does it mean?

Well 1 000 won is about 1USD which is about R8 in South Africa. Now that is all good and well but telling how cheap and how expensive a country is is all based on what you get for your money.

In some regards Korea is very very cheap and in others not so much. For example:


  • An average taxi ride will cost you anywhere between 2 200 - 3 000 won (super cheap!)
  • A Shabu Shabu dinner (a four course meal which will leave you stuffed) for four excluding drinks will cost roughly 35 000 won (very cheap)
  • It is about 6 000 won for 150g of beef (flippen expensive...)
  • In a restaurant a draught beer will cost 3 000 won (average)
  • A cheap free standing fan...because you need one in these stinking hot summers... is roughly 35 000 won (resonable)
  • When it comes to take away joints, pizza in particular, prices can fluctuate dramatically from one place to another. In one pizza place a decent sized good tasting pizza will cost 5 000 won but in another it will cost 15 000 won.
  • Vegetables are also dirt cheap in Korea, they form the basis of most meals and you can only buy in bulk. For three massive cabbages you will pay 2 000 won.
  • Depending on where you buy it, a bottle of Soju is anywhere between 1 000 and 2 000 won (cheapest hangover ever)
  • A decent room at a pension or motel will cost between 35 000 - 50 000 won for the room (not too bad)
  • A city to city bus ride (about two hours) will cost you about 10 000 won (cheap cheap cheap) and might I add that these buses are also incredibly comfortable!
So in general it is cheap to drink, eat and get around (what more do you need!) but if you are planning on staying for a while then electronic items are likely to be more expensive than you would expect from an Asian country. Oh, and you can pretty much forget about eating beef (unless it is a treat) because it is just too pricey.

If a beef craving does attack...then I would suggest finding a korean buffet (yummmy) where there will be some decent beef available (not quite a South African medium rare rump steak but good nonetheless).

Hopefully this insert has given you some insight into the expenses you would encounter if ever you decided to visit Korea.

Post by Claudia

3 comments:

Robert said...

Actually the Asian markets just hit a huge slump because of china and the won has lost alot of value, it is now about 6 rand to the won not 8. Made me lose 15 000 rand in savings, so lets hope the economy has an up swing ASAP!

Claudia and Oliver said...

Wow, it is crazy how quickly the market works...when I wrote the post I checked the conversion on xe.com and 1 000 won was R7.80 but I just checked now again and it is R6.20.

Sorry about your savings but on the plus side..ayone coming to Korea from SA will now spend even less. I am sure the market will turn around soon...it always does!!!

Robert said...

We can always hope, I trust the won will return to a decent level i think this is just a small downturn.

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