The new forgery-proof W5,000 banknotes are less than proof against the elements since the hologram comes off easily and the ink runs when it gets wet, according to a slew of complaints on the Bank of Korea homepage (www.bok.or.kr).
A student in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province said on Jan. 18 his mother soaked his trousers without knowing that a new W5,000 bill was in the pocket. "On taking the bill out of the pocket, I found that the value 5,000 and some of the hologram had disappeared," he wrote. Another user also said he laundered a new W5,000 bill in the washing machine by accident and saw the hologram vanish.
A BOK official said the hologram is susceptible to water and alkali and the value "5,000" is printed in special ink that is supposed to run. "New W5,000 banknotes with defect holograms or values can be exchanged, but there are no problems in using the new bill since other anti-forgery features remain intact," the official said.
The new bill is enjoying great popularity in the run-up to the Lunar New Year, when youngsters are traditionally given gifts of crisp new banknotes when they pay respect to their elders, with six times as many notes distributed than last year.