Basics of banking in South Korea



Currency & Currency Restrictions in South Korea

The official currency of South Korea is the Won. Notes in circulation are in denominations of KRW 10,000, 5,000 and 1,000 and coins are in denominations of KRW 500, 100, 50 and 10. KRW 1,000 is called Chon Won in Korean (chon means "one thousand").

The import and export of local currency up to KRW 8,000,000 is permitted. The import of foreign currency is unlimited as long as amounts greater than USD $10,000 (including traveler's cheques) are declared on arrival. The export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared on arrival.


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Opening a Bank Account in South Korea

Most Korean banks do not impose any restrictions on foreigners who want to open up a bank account. The gamut of services provided by local banks is limited but bigger banks do provide many services and documents in English and other languages. To open an account, simply fill out an application form and submit your passport, visa and certificate of alien registration. Foreigners are usually required to present their passports each time they make a transaction, and there might be some restrictions on the amount of money you can transfer home.

You may open a savings account, time deposit account or an investment account with a bank. After signing up for an account, you will receive a bankbook and a bank card within a couple of weeks. The bank card can simply be used to withdraw money from any ATM and cannot be used to charge purchases to your account.

Setting up an automatic bank transfer for larger payments or monthly bills is an efficient way of doing things for a small service fee.

Credit Cards in South Korea

International credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted across the country. However since only some ATM's will accept foreign credit/debit cards, you will have to look for machines correlated with Cirrus, Star, Interlink, Plus and so on. ATMs are out of service after 11:00 p.m.

Money Transfers in South Korea

Most banks offer services to transfer funds internationally for a small service fee. These transfers are subject to a limit on the amount of money you can transfer. Alternatively you could use the services of the offices of Western Union and MoneyGram, which are located all throughout Korea to provide the services that you need.