Who Lives in a World of Paper Money?
Who Lives in a World of Paper Money?
  • Yoo Kang Hyun-ji
  • 승인 2007.03.26 18:21
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The Controversy of New Money Design in Korea

Following the floatation of the 5000 won unit of paper money and the discussion of its design about 2 years ago, many controversies have been raised about the new design of 1000 won units and 10000 won units of paper money issued by the Bank of Korea. 

Some general consensus  includes the use of Sun, Moon, and Five Peaks (the picture name) in the front and a 1.8m-telescope of Bohyunsan optical astronomy observatory in the back of the 10000won unit.  In contrast, the problem of the former is that it is not suitable for representing royal authority and that this picture does not represent King Sejong. 

Second, in the case of the latter, the 1.8m telescope is not a source of pride in the world, although the intention of the use of one of the scientific cultural properties is good.  This is because the advisory committee of money design of the Bank didn't have a pure historian and a professional in the specific area of cultural assets. 

In addition, it collected public opinion for only a one week period prior to the floatation.  Furthermore, there has been the point that a woman’s figure didn’t appear on any Korean paper money.  If we expand the thought of paper money design from this situation to the world, the design of every country containing Korea should be representative of its own country, through various areas such as society, culture, science and women. 

How is the paper money different from another country’s design?  Is paper money originated from specific incidents or figures?  Analyze paper money of the world and offer some alternatives to view money, not as money but as culture.

Various Characters in Various Cultures 

Most paper money is decorated with several celebrities and something that concerns them, which is a connection such as artist and the work of art.  Anyway, in most cases, 80 percent of content of money design is composed of a person, not objects and sceneries. 

Then, we need to know the design which gives priority to historical persons and their personality or achievement.  It is easy to see celebrities of various areas in Europe's paper money, before a unified Euro.  Above all, you may find artists, Hector Berlioz, only one French composer of a symphony at that time on a 10 franc currency, and Antoine Marie Roger De Saint Exupery noted for Le Petit Prince to use 50 franc currency. 

Paul Sezanne, one of the greatest of the Post Impressionists of 20c, is also an artist who has appeared on 100 franc currency.  If you notice on 500 franc currency and 200 franc currency, there are Marie Curie, awarded Nobel Prize twice in scientific area, and Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, an architect well?known for the Eiffel Tower in the steel industry.  There is also, Italia, the country from descendents of Roma, the glorious civilization. 

First of all, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Raffaello Sanzio in the era of Renaissance are the general examples, each on one million,  one half million lira.  If you look on 1000 lira and 10,000 lira, you can see Maria Montessori, an Italian woman educator who put an emphasis on respect for children’s rights, and Alessandro Antonio Anastasio Volta, known for Voltaic cell in chemistry.  There are lots of activists on South America’s currency. 

The money of Cuba’s revolutionary government is a direct example.  If you listen to this saying, you could think about Ernesto Chi Guevara, the last guerilla of the 20 C, known well for his wise sayings and his autobiography.  In addition, 'Patria o murete’ (it means that if not Cuba, death) is carved on all of the coins of Cuba.  In the case of America, it has images of competent politicians or presidents generation after generation on paper money. 

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson are the representatives, and all of them were presidents honored by American people.

Long Cherished Desire of Koreans

Kim Won Wung, an assemblyman of the Uri party, petitioned the Ministry of Finance and Economy last year.  The concise content asked for was to adopt a scientist’s figure as the figure of new paper money, especially arguing the selection of Jang Young Sil.  Although there are lots of historically respectable scientists and craftsman, any one of them didn’t appear in the design of paper money. 

In addition, as the flotation of a 100,000 won unit had been discussed, the concern about the figure came to the climax.  At that time, scientists and patriots for independence were the main subjects.  According to an opinion survey in December, last year by Yahoo, Tangun, the originator of the Koreans, and Kim Koo who had led the Korean Provisional Government for 27 years were first and second place for the adoption.  In addition, rose of sharon (so called ‘Moo gung hwa’), Baek Doo San and the Korean script, were mostly supported, according another survey.

Paper money needs to represent the country and vibe of all its citizens of the country.  But in Korea, women and many professionals in a variety of areas have hardly appeared on paper money.  The use of paper money in each country is not limited to consumption, but is expanded to the collection or personal belongings such as a souvenir.  Maybe, it will be exciting to see the desing of paper money.

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