Korean man rinses cash in washing machine to remove coronavirus strains

A South Korean man living in Ansan city, near Seoul, placed an unspecified amount of 50,000-won bills (US$42) in a washing machine  to remove possible traces of the coronavirus.

The money was seriously damaged so the man reached out to the Bank of Korea to find whether it could be exchanged for new bills.

Under bank rules on the exchange of damaged, mutilated and contaminated banknotes, the person was provided with the new currency totaling about 23 million won ($19,320), the Bank of Korea said in a statement.

Bank official Seo Jee Woun said the number of 50,000-won bills the bank exchanged at half value was 507.

She said the bank doesn’t count the number of bills that it cannot exchange because damage is too big.

She said bank officials didn’t know exactly how much money the person tried to wash. She added that the loss would still be “considerable.”

How much the central bank should exchange in a situation like this depends on how seriously banknotes are damaged. The bank can provide the new currency at face value if the damage is minimal, but at half value or not at all if the damage is significant.

The amount in question was condolence money given by relatives, friends, and others during a family funeral, according to the bank.

The person has been only identified by the family name Eom. Bank officials gave no further personal information citing privacy law.