The front of the commemorative note features speed skaters and other winter sports players. / Courtesy of the Bank of Korea
By Hong Dam-young
A commemorative banknote to promote the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics has been criticized for its "childish" and "substandard" design.
While some compared the design with that of a North Korean banknote, others said it had dented Korea's international reputation.
"The design looks like a high school contest winner project," a Pole living in Seoul told The Korea Times when shown the design. "Adding to that, I don't see how the tiger image commemorates the Olympics … Not impressive at all."
A Taiwanese living in Taipei said: "The design is not iconic." She said the banknote was "not powerful enough to represent the spirit of the Olympics."
Korean netizens called the design "poor and embarrassing."
The other side of the banknote shows a tiger, the country's symbolic animal. / Courtesy of the Bank of Korea
The Bank of Korea unveiled the prototype of the commemorative 2,000 won ($1.70) banknote on its Facebook page on Dec. 16. The bank said the note was targeted at overseas Olympic fans and was Korea's first Olympic-themed commemorative banknote.
The front of the note featured speed skaters and other winter sports players to deliver the spirit of the Olympics, while a tiger, the country's symbolic animal, was on the other side to promote Korean culture, according to the bank.
But Netizens' reactions were not what the bank had hoped for. Many, non-Koreans in particular, said they were deeply disappointed at a design that was intended to appeal to foreigners.
Some of their comments read: "Releasing such a poorly made banknote would send Korea's national image to the bottom." "It looks like a North Korean banknote."
Some even compared it with that of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, which the bank reportedly has taken examples from.
The bank plans to release the note from the fourth quarter of 2017, before the Olympics in February 2018. Its sale price is yet to be set.