[KS] Going, going, gyeong: but why 10 quadrillion?

Afostercarter at aol.com Afostercarter at aol.com
Fri Sep 30 07:43:55 EDT 2005

A query for those less mathematically challenged than me
(ie just about everyone).

In the JoongAng story below, I'm puzzled why the new mega-unit
should have 13 zeroes, rather than 12 or 16.

If I have it aright, the man/ok system - whose use even in official
English-language websites etc traps many an unwary foreigner
brought up on three-based Western thousands/millions/billions
 - proceeds in quasi-binary units of 2 and 4, thus:

baek                 100
man                  10,000 (a hundred hundreds)
ok                     100,000,000 (ten thousand ten thousands)

That is already plenty big enough. But the ROK's perverse refusal
to do to the won what de Gaulle did for the franc in 1959 - ie create
a new won, worth 100 old won - means they now need mega-numbers;
hence the gyeong. Fair enough. 

But why 13 zeroes? OK, ok ok (16 zeroes, ten quintillion!) is beyond need, or 
But why not 12 zeroes (10,000 cubed), ie the western quadrillion? 
Has 13 some mystical significance? Lucky for some?

I learn from Wikipedia (see below; sorry I don't know how to paste 
that Chinese has words for both of the above (12 and 16 zeroes).

But otherwise I'm outnumbered, and can only shriek: OOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Can anyone figure it out?

yours, nonplussed

Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology & Modern Korea, Leeds University 

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13 zeros all in a row: That's a gyeong here 
September 30, 2005 ? It's getting tougher to count the zeros in talking about 
the Korean macroeconomy, and some statisticians probably wish the won were 
worth only 10 or 100 to the dollar instead of over 1,000. All those zeros to 
describe an economy the size of Korea's has forced a new numerical term into use: 
one gyeong, a unit of 10 quadrillion. 

The Bank of Korea said yesterday that the sum of all transactions through 
domestic financial service companies reached "2.7 gyeong won" or 27 quadrillion 
won ($26 trillion) last year. Transactions in derivatives are also more than a 
gyeong's worth every year. 

A Bank of Korea official said that when Korea's broadly defined money supply 
reached 1.3 quadrillion won, he had to refer foreign bankers to a dictionary 
to confirm to them that there was such an English word as "quadrillion." 



There are also words in other languages with the same classic meaning as 
Hebrew: revava 
Chinese: wan4 Mandarin and maan6 Cantonese (?/?) 
Japanese:man (?/?) 
Korean: man (?/?/?) 

Chinese, Japanese and Korean also have words for a myriad squared (10 0002): 
yi (?/?), oku (?), and eok (?/?)(pronounced "awk"), respectively. A myriad 
cubed (10 0003) is a zhao (?); cho (?); a myriad to the fourth power (10 0004) is 
a jing (?); kei (?). Conversely, Chinese, Japanese and Korean do not have 
single words for a thousand squared, cubed, etc., unlike English.

The English numbering system divides large numbers into groups of three 
digits, and so the names for such numbers follow this division (10 000 = ten 
thousand). Asian numbering divides large numbers into groups of four; so in Chinese, 
Japanese, or Korean, 30 000 really would be "three myriad" (3 0000 - Japanese 
san-man). One million is a hundred myriad (100 x 10000 instead of 1000 x 
1000); the next uniquely named number after a myriad is ?, which is myriad myriad 
(10000 x 10000) or a hundred million.Modern Greek still uses the word "myriad" 
by itself, but also to form the word for million. The word for million is 
ekatommyrio (hundred myriad - e?at?µµ????); one thousand million is 
disekatommyrio (twice hundred myriad - d?se?at?µµ????).The largest number named in Ancient 
Greek was a myriad myriad and Archimedes of Syracuse used this quantity as the 
basis for a numeration system of large powers of ten, which he needed to 
count grains of sand, see The Sand Reckoner.There is only slight indication that 
"myria" has at all been used as a metric prefix for 10,000, e.g., 10 kilometres 
= 1 myriametre. It does not have official status as a prefix.[edit


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