Uproar over crackdown on cryptocurrencies divides South Korea

SEOUL (Reuters) – With a tech-savvy race discerning to adopt the latest gadgets and a immature era confronting low prospects in the required workplace, South Korea has been a fruitful belligerent for unsentimental currencies.

But the country’s discerning welcome of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has been met with an equally discerning recoil by regulators, who have left so distant as to introduce undisguised bans on trading.

With markets around the universe watching, South Korea has turn a error line between a era that sees cryptocurrencies as a way to a better life, and supervision officials who have likened the marketplace to gambling and warned that it encourages unlawful behaviour.

On Thursday the probity minister, Park Sang-ki, sent tellurian bitcoin prices temporarily plummeting and unsentimental silver markets into misunderstanding when he pronounced regulators were scheming legislation to hindrance cryptocurrency trading.

As of Friday, a petition on the website of the presidential Blue House had drawn more than 120,000 signatures hostile the move. Heavy internet trade quickly crashed the site.

The online overthrow opposite the government’s skeleton puts President Moon Jae-in a tough spot, and his bureau was discerning to contend a anathema is just one offer underneath consideration.

“The latest thought to anathema it all seems to have come out of a fear that when the burble bursts and things go wrong, it will be all on the government,” pronounced Yun Chang-hyun, an economics highbrow at University of Seoul.


With the girl stagnation rate 3 times the inhabitant normal and a flourishing income opening between abounding and poor, many immature Koreans worry about their mercantile prospects.

“Tax it as much as you want but don’t close it down. My life depends on it,” one postulant wrote on the Blue House website.

Lee Min-kyung, a 25-year old tyro in a Seoul-based connoisseur propagandize pronounced she warranted about 18 million won (£12,451), double her initial investment in bitcoin. She pronounced the supervision is display rambling responses simply because officials have “no idea.”

“They contend the purpose of the law is to quell suppositional moves, but it creates me just think the supervision simply doesn’t know what the marketplace is,” Lee said.

More than 30 percent of 941 bureau workers surveyed in Dec by Saramin, a South Korea-based pursuit portal, pronounced they traded cryptocurrencies. The respondents had an normal of 5.7 million won invested in unsentimental currencies, and a infancy of them pronounced they began trade because they saw it as the fastest way to acquire money.

That trend has warranted critics on the travel as well as in supervision offices.

Koh Young-sam, a 56-year old automechanic in Seoul, warned that the disturb would collapse.

“Young people shouldn’t be lured into this kind of scam. There is always something unlikely about things that grow this fast,” Koh said.


South Korea is not alone in struggling to figure out how to taxation and umpire online currencies, many of which are designed to yield anonymity for transactions.

In Sep last year, China burst down on cryptocurrency trading, citing what officials saw as broader risks to the country’s economy.

As South Korea accounts for about 15 percent of tellurian bitcoin trading, according to the website Coinhills.com, how regulators proceed the emanate will expected have general effects.

The internal cost of bitcoin in South Korea bounced back on Friday to 19.3 million won from as low as 17.5 million won according to Bithumb, the nation’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange. On the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp, bitcoin BTC=BTSP stood at $13,709 after touching $12,800 the before day.

Park Chong-hoon, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Seoul, said, “South Koreans find it hard to understanding with the jealousy from examination their neighbours removing abounding fast.”

It is a view echoed by many. Scepticism of “get-rich-quick” schemes among South Korean officials has phony past forays by general financial into the country.

In the mid-2000s the U.S. private equity account Lone Star faced raids of the offices and a years-long authorised conflict with the South Korean supervision after the unfamiliar account made millions of dollars shopping and offered a determining interest in a vital South Korean bank.

That controversy, which lifted concerns over South Korean income issuing to unfamiliar entities, is probably among several factors creation South Korea officials heedful of handling the new multiply of markets originated abroad, analysts said.

“In a unsentimental sense, the South Korean supervision needs to cause in some domestic aspects – if a flourishing number of people remove outrageous sums of income on bitcoin because of the government’s unsuccessful attempts to rein in the frenzy, people will censure the government,” Lee Dong-gwi, a psychology highbrow at Yonsei University. “Simply put, the South Korean supervision could be fearful of the domestic hassles of being hold accountable.”

Additional stating by Dahee Kim; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Gerry Doyle

Article source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-bitcoin/uproar-over-crackdown-on-cryptocurrencies-divides-south-korea-idUSKBN1F10YG