The Korea Herald


BOK puts brakes on Gyeongju's iconic coin-shaped street snack

By Choi Jae-hee

Published : June 22, 2023 - 18:01

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Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province's popular street snack, the 10-won waffle. (Twitter) Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province's popular street snack, the 10-won waffle. (Twitter)

The historic city of Gyeongju may soon lose one of its most iconic street snacks, the 10-won waffle, as the South Korea’s central bank takes issue with its design resembling a real coin.

The Bank of Korea on Thursday said it will put the brakes on the sale of the waffles designed after national coins that have become popular street snacks in some tourist destinations.

The central bank has recently urged a warning to local producers of the coin-shaped snack to stop applying the design of government tokens to their products. The move is in accordance with the BOK guidelines on the reproduction of notes and coins.

Individuals and institutions can use the BOK’s currency designs only when not for profit. The regulation aims to prevent the possible reckless commercialization of currency designs which could undermine public trust in the currency system.

This latest measure came after the so-called “10-won” waffle gained huge popularity in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province.

Just like the real 10-won coin, the waffle's front side has the shape of the three-story Dabotap Pagoda, one of the most famous features of Gyeongju's Bulguksa Temple. On its backside, the Arabic numeral for the 10-won coin is printed along with the year 1966, when the currency was first issued in Korea. The English name of the Bank of Korea is also written on the same side.

After the 10-won snack became a hit in Gyeongju, similar products appeared in other regions, including the 100-won snack in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, and the 500-won snack in Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul.

Discussions are now underway between the central bank and the companies selling the products resembling national coins over ways to change the existing designs.

“There will be no problem if the Dabotap Pagoda on the 10-won waffle is replaced by other designs of national treasures such as the Cheomseongdae or Bulguksa Temple. The important thing is not to make the waffle look the same as the real coin,” a BOK official said.