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Q: While shopping in Seoul recently, I got a 10-won coin as change and noticed it was smaller than the rest of the 10-won coins in my wallet. What’s up with that?

A: The Bank of Korea began issuing new 10-won coins late last year, and the new version is smaller and lighter than the old. The reason for the change to your money? You guessed it: money.

The old 10-won coin debuted in 1966 and was made of copper and zinc. But over the last 40 years the price of copper and zinc has increased dramatically — and recently the Bank of Korea (BOK) found that each 10-won coin (roughly the equivalent of a penny) was costing 40 won to manufacture. You don’t have to be a money whiz to see that’s a bad deal.

So now the coins are smaller, meaning they can be made with less metal, and that metal is much-cheaper copper-coated aluminum. BOK officials told Korean news outlets that the new coin costs 20 won to make. That’s still twice its value, but apparently the savings are worth it.

The design on the coins will stay the same, except for some lettering changes, according to BOK. More changes to Korean money are on the horizon, most of them aimed at thwarting counterfeiters. Look next for new and allegedly improved 1,000-won and 10,000-won bills, which were released into circulation on Monday.

Got a question about goings-on in the Pacific? E-mail Stacy Chandler at:

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