[FOUNTAIN]Cabbages are very heavyQuestion: Who am I? I was born in 1973. I cost 65 won (5 cent) in birth expenses. I weigh 1 gram (0.04 ounces). My patron is King Sejong and, as a hint, my nickname is cabbage leaf.
The answer is the 10,000-won ($ 8.40) note, the largest denomination among nine Korean notes and coins. There is a reason the 10,000-won note is green, earning the name of cabbage leaf. Green ink is relatively less expensive than other inks and permeates paper more easily. The color also draws a sense of trust.
Prosecutors and the police have stuffed bills into bags and boxes to estimate how much money was involved in alleged bribery cases.
An inspector who worked in the Central Investigation Department of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office figured that one can fill a small soap box with 500 “leaves” of 10,000-won notes. A box for a shirt, he calculated, can hold 1,000 leaves, a big cake box or a box used to ship cup-ramyeon, an instant noodle, can hold 5,000 and a box for apples, 30,000. He said that a man’s small purse can carry 100, a golfbag, 10,000, a suit case, 15,000, a bank’s money sack, 20,000.
About 2,500 leaves can fit into the glove box of a medium-size sedan. The large box used by delivery companies can hold 40,000 leaves. All these estimates are for new notes. If the notes are used, 10 percent fewer will fit.
Though one 10,000-note is light in weight, a soap box full of them weighs 500 grams (1.1 pounds), a suit case filled with them weighs 15 kilograms and an apple box stuffed with 10,000 won notes weighs 30 kilograms.
In recent days, prosecutors have told a story more interesting than a mystery novel. They said that Hyundai Group sent 50 document boxes filled with 400 million won each to a politician of the ruling party. The driver who delivered the boxes in a small van said “the car would not move because of the money’s weight.”
One leaf of a 10,000-won note means something to many people. A survey says the average monthly budget for an elderly person in Korea is 10 cabbage leaves. A group gathers one cabbage leaf monthly from each of its members to help people in poor countries.
Everybody loves money. But the words of an investigator offer a lesson. “The bags or boxes stank badly, so I knew instantly what they were used to carry.”
by Lee Kyu-youn
The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.