What are the banknotes seen in the Squid Game series?
Articles by Oct. 13, 2021- on
The South Korean television series streaming Squid Game is currently gaining worldwide audiences on Netflix. “Between ultra-violence and denouncing economic inequalities, the dystopian and bloody Korean series features hundreds of indebted or marginalized characters participating in a competition for traditional children's games (style "hopscotch" or "Red Light, Green Light") in the hope of winning 45.6 billion won (approximately 38,224,561.85 US Dollars). The losers are ruthlessly eliminated: they are killed. And there is only one possible winner at the end”(1).
Regarding our fascinating collection, we have made a “freeze frame” to show you the two Korean banknotes that appear during certain episodes (2).
The first note that we discover after 3'48 " in the first episode entitled "Red Light, Green Light" is the 10,000 won type 2007 banknote (Ref. Pick # 56, The Banknote Book # B252). The hero Gi-hun has a rather lively discussion with his mother, who reminds him that it is his little girl's birthday ...
The 10,000 won type 2007 is the second largest denomination issued by the Bank of Korea (한국 은행). Its dimensions are 148 x 68 mm. The note was printed by Korea Minting & Security Printing Corporation (KOMSCO). The print is predominantly blue and green. The front, whose texts are in Korean, is illustrated by a portrait of King Sejong the Great (1397-1450) in traditional Korean costume (the hanbok). This fourth king of the Korean Joseon dynasty is at the origin of Hangeul, an alphabet which replaced the Chinese writing system used in the country at the time but considered too complex. In the background, a representation of the Irworobongdo, a Korean screen from the Joseon dynasty, placed behind the royal throne and whose scene represents a scorching red sun, a full moon, five steep peaks and two fast-flowing streams with waterfalls, all flanked by a pair of conifers. The banknote has two locations with a two-letter prefix, a one-letter suffix and seven-digit numbering in red and black (AA 0000000 A). Many security signs including a watermark with the portrait of Sejong the Great and electrotype 10000, a square holographic patch, Taegeuk (two-comma roundel) as registration device, a solid security thread with printed (한국 은행) Bank of Korea 10000 and a group of EURion symbols positioned under the banknote number (3). The back, whose texts are this time in English, is illustrated by a celestial globe or armillary sphere (4) and a modern telescope. At the top, we can see the logo of the Bank of Korea symbolized by the hibiscus flower and the Taegeuk, a traditional Korean symbol found on the national flag.
The subway suitcase!
The second note that we discover after 18'40" also during the first episode entitled "Red Light, Green Light" is the 50,000 won type 2009 note (Ref. Pick # 57, The Banknote Book # B253). In this scene, the hero Gi-Hun is solicited by a traveling salesman who approaches him in the Seoul subway and who already knows everything about him ... The REP opens a black suitcase in which we discover the 50,000 won type 2009 presented in the form of two perfectly new bundles accompanied by a third bundle of the 10,000 won type 2007 and two mysterious red and blue envelopes ...
As an anecdote, we can notice that the numbers of the two 50,000 won banknotes at the top of the bundle and the 10,000 won banknote are perfectly visible, either from top to bottom: KE 1450204 C, FE 1904204 A and AL 2520279 E. These banknotes are normally fakes made for filming purposes since the authentic alphabets of the two banknotes range from AA / A to DA / L.
It also seems that the props of the series have simplified things because the interiors containing the three bundles appear to have the same dimension. Yet the 10,000 won is 6mm narrower than the 50,000 won!
The 50,000 won type 2009 is the largest denomination issued by the Bank of Korea (한국 은행). Its dimensions are 154 x 68 mm. The note is undated. It was printed by Korea Minting & Security Printing Corporation (KOMSCO). The print is predominantly yellow and green. The front, which is written in Korean, is illustrated with a portrait of Sin Saimdang (1504-1551) a Korean poet, painter and calligrapher of the Joseon dynasty. In the background, an extract from a painting by the artist entitled “Mokpododo wine grapes”. The note has two locations with a two-letter prefix, a one-letter suffix and seven-digit numbering in red and black (AA 0000000 A). Many security signs including a watermark with the portrait of Shin Saindang and electrotype 5 within pentagon, Taegeuk (two-comma roundel) as registration device, holographic stripe with demetalized Bank of Korea 50000, a windowed Motion security thread with printed (한국 은행) Bank of Korea 50000 and a group of EURion symbols positioned in the details of the graphic composition. The back, whose texts are this time in English, is illustrated by a “Wolmaedo” (a painting of a Japanese apricot tree) and a “Poongjukdo” (a painting of bamboo tree). At the top, we can see the traditional Korean Taegeuk symbol found on the national flag.
912,000 50,000 won bills
To close our “Quid Game”, let's stop at one last image, the one we can see several times throughout the episodes: a transparent ball fixed to a ceiling and gradually filling up with banknotes. In the penultimate episode # 9 titled "Leader", Gi-hun watches this big glass ball fill up for the penultimate time (18'10"). At this point, full wins are approaching the final sum of 45.6 billion won (approximately 38,224,561.85 US Dollars). In the image, we can see that all the banknotes contained in this ball are only denominations of 50,000 won ... which should therefore make a total of 912,000 “counterfeit banknotes”. Problem to be solved: knowing a round and empty ball of about 1m in diameter and 912,000 notes of 154 x 68 mm ... Can all the banknotes fit in the ball in full? You have 1 hour ...
(1) All-news radio Franceinfo: “Squid Game” an article in French by Laure Narlian published on 10/11/2021.
(2) Our study does not contain any information (spoilers) that could reveal the outcome of the episodes mentioned.
(3) The EURion constellation is the name given to an arrangement of symbols that has been found on many banknotes since 1996. It is intended to be detected by image processing software in order to prevent forgery using photocopier.
(4) An armillary sphere (variations are known as spherical astrolabe, armilla, or armil) is a model of objects in the sky (on the celestial sphere), consisting of a spherical framework of rings, centered on Earth or the Sun, that represent lines of celestial longitude and latitude and other astronomically important features, such as the ecliptic.
Editor's note: South Korea's banknotes are not yet active in the Numizon banknotes catalog.