September 23, 2014 10:21
There has been a marked decline in W50,000 banknotes in circulation, a trend that is most acute in Busan and surrounding South Gyeongsang Province.
For every 100 W50,000 bills in circulation there, only three were returned to the central bank.
According Bank of Korea data on Monday, Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province followed the neighboring region of Busan and South Gyeongsang Province with the second-lowest recovery rate of 5.6 percent in the first eight months of the year.
Gyeonggi Province came third with 6.3 percent, followed by Gwangju and Jeolla provinces (16.2 percent), Daejeon and Chungcheong provinces (20 percent) and Seoul and Gangwon Province (34.8 percent).
But the recovery rate on Jeju Island, a prime destination for tourists, is a whopping 333.1 percent.
Still, the overall recovery rate for W50,000 bills stood at 22.7 percent from January through August. Over the same period, the recovery rate for W10,000 notes was 100.8 percent, for W5,000 notes 74.2 percent and for W1,000 bills 80.3 percent.
The BOK printed W86 trillion worth of W50,000 bills from June 2009, when the largest denomination was first introduced, until August this year, but only W38.8 trillion worth of the notes were recovered. The accumulated recovery rate was a mere 44.3 percent.
Reasons for the low recovery rate may be a thriving underground economy, or that people are stuffing the notes into their mattresses for a rainy day.
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