Currency urgency

The won, the Korean currency, is in a freefall. Here’s what it looks like against the dollar over a three-month period:

Most foreigners get paid in won, which we periodically convert into dollars to put in things like bank accounts and retirement funds. Yesterday a friend of mine wired money back home without checking the exchange rate in advance. He sent me a text message: 400,000 won = $285!

Last year, the rate was a little closer to 1:1,000. We’re losing thousands of dollars in income over here. I have large amounts of won sitting there in my Korean bank account doing nothing. This, ahem, sucks balls. So I’m considering my options:

1. Ride it out. Wait for the won to come back up in value.
2. Bite the bullet. Accept that things are bad, that I make much less money than I used to, and send money home before things tumble even further.
3. Invest in Korean CDs. I’ve considered getting a 3-month CD, but I don’t know if the effort is really worth it.
4. Buy a very large suitcase. Take all those 10,000 won notes and carry them on a plane back to the states and wait until things get better.

For me it’s all about February. I’m not sure if I’ll be here after that. So in a sense, that’s when I’ll need to cash in. If things don’t get better by then, I may just take all that money and go live on a hammock on Jeju island.

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4 Responses to “Currency urgency”

  1. Man oh man. This is getting ugly quick, isn’t it?

  2. I’d take option two.

    Chances are things won’t change till after the American election because markets are re-acting to a rudderless government, America needs a strong leader to take the helm and tell people all will be sorted and soon.

    Plus, overseas American workers have been thankful for the weak dollar for way too long, that policy of letting the dollar drop like a kamikaze pilot is now going to really screw with the markets and all those who gambled on it continually dropping.

    Therefore, take your money and bail before it gets worse.

    You can play the wait and see game; I have tried that, but it never gets better only worse.

    Of course, I am just one opinion.

  3. Marmot has a good summation of where we stand:
    http://www.rjkoehler.com/2008/10/10/the-incredible-shrinking-won/

    I think I’ll do a little of both: options 1, 2 and 3. Send a bit back now, hold on to some, put some in a short-term CD (rates seem to be good now). I’ll save option 4 for when all hell breaks loose.

    I hate gambling. This whole mess is bad for my psyche.

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