Paper Money

Don’t microwave your bank notes to sanitize them

South Koreans attempting to decontaminate their bank notes by popping them into microwaves are finding the results less than satisfactory.

Original images courtesy of

Some things are better left to experts. That includes decontaminating paper money. The Korean online gossip and news site, told the unfortunate story on March 11 of a man identified only as Mr. Lee.

He was so worried about the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea and the possibility of his money being contaminated that, rather than exchange it for new notes, he took matters into his own hands, and stuck over 1.8 million Korean won (about $1,500), in the form of the 36 percent cotton paper 50,000-won notes, in the microwave.

The notes, according to the Bank of Korea, have all the latest security features, including holograms and metal strips. Oops. Metal does not interact well with microwaves.

While Mr. Lee’s notes were well-disinfected, half of them were burnt to a crisp, leaving him with only 950,000 won, or $796.

This was not the only example. Someone in the city of Busan tried it with 39 50,000-won notes. And the website also posted a picture of some 10,000 won notes that met the same fate.

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