The numbers on the left of the graph show how many won are needed to "buy" a US Dollar.
It just keeps getting worse and worse and worse. Our salaries have become worth fully a quarter less since we signed our contracts at the end of July.
When the exchange rate was bouncing around near 1,100 a few weeks ago, I wasn't really worried. I figure there's some volatility in these things, but they tend to be cyclic, and there must be psychological ties to the 1,000-to-1 exchange (there certainly are for those of us who live here, many of whom quote prices in dollars; eg. a 3,500 won bus fare is spoken of as $3.50 (though it's now more like $2.50)). But now, this is starting to freak me out. The ROI from a year in Korea is a lot less with the exchange rate at 1,350:1 than at 900:1 (where it was last time I traded won for dollars). I still think I'm right about the psychological ties to 1,000-to-1, I think it will return to that neighborhood... the questions is, will I be here long enough to see that return, and if not, how long can I wait before "cashing out" my won?
I just saw that the Dow lost 500 points yesterday and is now below 9,500. And unemployment in the U.S. is over 6%. I still have a job, and I haven't lost any value in savings. To those who have lost jobs or are nearing retirement and wondering if it will be possible, I'm sorry. There's always a job teaching English in South Korea waiting for you.