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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Banks Rein In Power of Won for World Cup Fans

SEOUL, South Korea -- The South Korean won's recent surge in value has made it more expensive for World Cup soccer fans to visit the country, but they may find some solace after commercial banks moved to cut charges for changing currency.

Hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to require an extra $200 million to $300 million in foreign exchange during the monthlong tournament, industry sources said.

"We provide up to an 80 percent discount on our exchange fees during the Cup period to serve our customers as a World Cup sponsoring bank," said Park Soo-churl, a spokesman at South Korea's top consumer lender Kookim Bank.

Some banks have opened foreigners-only windows at branches and are employing interpreters, local media reported.

Woori Bank, formally known as Hanvit Bank, says it is providing free exchange services to travelers using certain travelers checks.

"It's a good chance to help plant a good image of the country with visiting foreigners," said Lee Hun-joo, a spokesman at Woori.

The won has gained about eight percent against the dollar since mid-April and was near a fresh 17-month high Monday.

South Korea is co-hosting Asia's first World Cup with Japan in the tournament that runs from May 31 to June 30.