The 'Western Yulgok' 5000 won note
Been a bit busy of late (there's an election on here in case you didn't know).
Spotted this article on the 5000 won note (worth about £3) the other day on Oh My News. One of those novelty stories that probably has a serious underbelly (if such a thing is possible). I think the peg for this story was the fact that the Korean government is going to introduce a new 5000 won note because the current ones are being couterfeited to such an extent.
The 5000 won notes have featured famous Korean Confucian philosopher Yulgok Yi I (1536-1584) since the 1970s. But apparently, the design before the previous one became known as the 'Western Yulgok' because the portrait of the philospher appearing on the note looked remarkably like a person of the round-eyed, large-proboscis persuasion who just happened to be wearing a sixteenth century Korean official's hat and coat.
The explanation for this is that apparently these notes were made by the British company De La Rue (as are those of about 150 countries according to their website) and the designer who adapted the original portrait of Yulgok was for some reason incapable of reproducing an East Asian looking face. Resorting to that hackneyed phraseology beloved by certain sorts of Korean writers, the author of the article says that the designer managed to produce a portrait of Yulgok that was 'totally incompatible with our sentiments'. I think I'd rather say that the designer was just a rubbish artist.
Apparently the 'Western Yulgok' (top image) notes only lasted until 1977 when the current note was brought in (bottom).
Next time I'm in Korea I might try to lay my hands on one of these novelty notes.