Soo-pyo or “checks” in Korean

So, I’m at the “Homeplus” in my building which is like a Walmart in Korea.  It’s actually what’s caused Walmart to go bankrupt in this country along with Emart who I believe ended up buying up some of the old Walmart locations…and potentially Homeplus buying up some of them as well.

Anyway, they are usually great with customer service.  At any time, I’ll get 3 or 4 people scouring the entire store to help me find something.  There were times I was wondering how they got their work done in contrast to the grocery clerk who finds ways to avoid the customer in the states.  I remember clearly when I felt like I was asked many things I didn’t know, but the effort that these Koreans take on in the grocery stores are simply amazing.

Nevertheless, the problem I did face was something in terms of the money system.  I heard or read something briefly that FINALLY, the country is going to create 100,000 won bills instead of the 10,000 bills which are the highest valued currency outside of “checks” which are in the form of 100,000 or 1,000,000 won, but require your signature, phone number and ID number.  Most of the times, after you provide the details I just mentioned, there are no problems.  The checks “look official”, but I’m sure I can understand how someone might also counterfeit it.  On the flip side, like I’ve seen in casinos, they have some ultraviolet light device that can detect if they are authentic or not.  So, at 12:03a one night, I’m buying some groceries and right after the total is accumulated, I give her my “Soo-pyo” or check.  She looks at it funny & then processes it in her cash register.  It says “no way to confirm.”  She basically looks at me, apologizes and says, “Sorry, I can’t accept this.”  I’m looking at her like “what can I do?”  I’ll go up to the bank, but she says we’re closing.  I tell her I have 5 others of these & that she can check any one of these.  Well, all of them fail on her machine, but we go back and forth on her accepting it or not.

After a long ordeal lasting about 10-15 minutes and other customers lining up behind me, she gets a coworker to find out it doesn’t work on the main offices’ machines as well.  Well, I only carry these stupid things because I’m not going to carry around 50 – 10,000 won bills.  It’s just way too bulky.  However, I can’t even use these stupid things at times.

I PRAY the 100,000 won bill comes out soon!


Filed under Blogs - Korea Expats, Expat, Financial, Korea life, Random thoughts, Stupid

2 responses to “Soo-pyo or “checks” in Korean

  1. skim

    hey brandon,

    this was one of the strangest differences i encountered in korea. since 10,000 won is about $10, when i cashed in $700 at the currency exchange at the airport, i ended up getting close to 70 bills that made my wallet so fat it was ridiculous. i didn’t know about the check thing but thought it was very strange that the largest bill was equivalent to $10 bucks. i love the bills though–didn’t feel like i was spending real money 😛

  2. Yah Sung, they sometimes don’t feel like real money & that’s the danger. 🙂 Actually, the positive thing since I’ve been in the country despite the feeling like they’re not real money, I’ve finally been able to “save money” for the first time in about 15 years. 🙂

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