As South Korea seeks to boost the global profile of its financial markets, the export powerhouse is struggling to loosen the tight currency restrictions that have for years been a major pain point for investors and traders in the country.

Asia's fourth-largest economy is one of the world's most advanced by many metrics but has been unable to shake its classification as an emerging market due to a host of issues, including the way its currency is managed.

While foreign exchange regulators are now considering modest steps to make the won more global, such as extending trading hours, memories of bruising foreign exchange crises cast a long shadow over reforms.