Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Does crypto hold a future in South Korea?

The Takeaway:

South Korea maintains a complicated alliance with the crypto world. The young Koreans dived into the pool of digital currency investments and grew into professionals. However, a turn of events became dominant when the government regulated a ban on the ICOs and trade of digital coins. The immediate prohibition led to an unexpected fall in the bitcoin value along with several other. Although being uncertain about the crypto exchange, the country favors the blockchain adoption. Seoul and Busan, the two largest cities of South Korea have ascended the use of blockchain technology in addition to tech giants like Samsung, KT, LG Uplus, and more.

The word ‘complicated’ is the most appropriate to define the relationship between South Korea and the crypto world. The Korean Won is the third most exchanged currency for bitcoin, but the South Korean authorities have always showcased an uncertain approach towards the digital currencies.


A round figure of approx 50% of the millennials is either unemployed or underemployed, leading to the adoption of cryptocurrencies in the country. The adults may trade on the filed exchange platforms using their real name accounts at a particular bank with the exchange account. Both the exchange and the bank are subject to verify the user’s identity and implement anti-money-laundering stipulations. On the other hand, minors and foreigners are not permitted to trade the digital coins.

Cryptocurrencies – A phenomena?

South Korea marks as one of the influential trading cores for Bitcoin and wide range of altcoins. As per reports, though education is a priority, yet, only 32% of the youth consider it to be an essential asset, and just 22% of young Koreans believe in the weight of hard work as a leading step towards success. This changed the way young people work for a living and led to a surge in the crypto coins trading. Coffee shops began issuing their digital coins, and television networks initiated game shows based on cryptocurrencies. Purchasing digital money became easier than obtaining loans or buying stocks.


Despite an enthusiast cryptocurrency market, the South Korean government appeared to lack interest. Seoul cautioned to outlaw the cryptocurrency trading in 2017 resulting in a petition signed by an extensive gathering of people to desist the government from forbidding the regulation. Bithumb and Coinrail, the two significant South Korean crypto exchanges became the gulls of the hack.

ICO banThe Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) after restraining the ICOs, ultimately banned the offerings and continue to maintain it. The taxations on the digital coins turned out to be challenging for the legislations and executives to implement. The Korean government commenced a three-month investigation and announced the initial coin offerings to be ‘very risky.’

Also, the country prohibited the obscure bank accounts used to trade cryptocurrencies.

Did South Korea fear Bitcoin?

In spite of being classified among the most important markets of digital currencies, why did South Korea ban cryptocurrency trading? Did it just renounce its role as a pilot of digital money exchange or also, opposed its trend?

As suggested, the country did have several reasons to be afraid of bitcoin, the major being the potential of Kim Jong-un to use the coin as a secret economic weapon for North Korea. Further, with more than half of the young population adopting bitcoin, the government feared the inflowing of corruption in the nation. In addition, South Korean Prime Minister expressed his concern over the possible application of bitcoins for illegal acts such as drug dealing or market frauds.

Impact of restrictions

The collapse in the virtual currency trading eventually resulted in debts and losses for the same people who transformed the country into a well-framed crypto world. Crypto paved the way for money, moving from one society to another. Koreans helped spur bitcoin’s reputation. According to a survey, three out of every ten Koreans had invested in cryptocurrencies. The injunction decreased the opportunities for incomes.

Bitcoin drop with South Korean ban

No sooner did South Korea declared a ban on cryptocurrencies than the value of bitcoin dropped to its lowest levels. The regulations in the country-influenced Bitcoin’s price exceptionally. BTC slumped to as much as 12%, Ripple tumbled down by 14%, and Ethereum collapsed by 4%. The cryptocurrency had peaked by more than 900%, achieving the position of the most significant traded digital coin.

Blockchain Adoption

Busan – A regulation-free Blockchain city

Amid the unclear picture of bitcoin’s future in South Korea, the regulators did initiate the adoption blockchain in the country. Busan, the second-largest city of South Korea, was elected as a regulatory free zone for blockchain in April. Besides, it is expected to partner with the BNK Busan Bank for the accelerated spread of blockchain-based monetary functions.

A whole of eleven regulations has been eliminated for the project. The issue of local currencies is assumed to aid Busan in leading the way in the blockchain tech sector. The city is a hub for Korean exchange and a center for trading and finance. The local currencies, explicitly, the local digital coins are presumed to strengthen the regional economy.

Korea’s oldest bank – A blockchain-based service

The Shinhan Bank, oldest of South Korea, originated a blockchain-based lending program in the month of May 2019 to enhance time and cost-effectiveness for the public. The platform will assist people in requesting for loans online without an in-person interplay. Also, the application of blockchain would intensify security.

S-coins – The cryptocurrency of Seoul

The largest city of South Korea, Seoul, is all set to introduce its blockchain regulatory assistance in November. The city proclaimed the development of 14 services based on the ledger system by 2022. Post blockchain adoption, the city is now prepped to establish its native crypto coin – the S-coin by November. The determination is the upliftment of the local financial position by use of the S-coin for public aids. Though termed as a digital currency, the coin will be monitored by the authorities and backed by the national fiat money.

Production – Fulfilling the duties of citizenship like paying taxes, engaging in opinionated public polls and more would generate the currency in the form of rewards.

ZeroPay, a city-government sponsored QR-code qualified interface will blend with the point criteria and authorize people to pay for goods via their smartphones with no extra charges.

Besides, the Korea Internet Security Agency (KISA), The Ministry of Science and ICT launched a public blockchain ‘part-time workers’ rights protection service in 2019. The aim of beholding the program is to promote trust and associations between small firms and part-time operators.

Blockchain Acceleration

The blockchain activities are undoubtedly speeding up in South Korea following Facebook’s announcement of its cryptocurrency launch. Kakao, the South Korean messaging app, stated the beginning of execution of their crypto wallet named ‘Klip’ following this year.

A representative of the company reported, “Klip has just launched a teasing site before the launch of its wallet, which will take place in the second half of the year.”

Ground X, a subsidiary specialized in the blockchain, is accountable for the development of a wallet. The wallet will support the company’s native token, Klay and other cryptocurrencies based on the firm’s blockchain, Klaytn. Shinhan Bank will also collaborate with Kakao Talk’s subsidiary to boost ledger security.

Another solid stone for the technology is the launch of blockchain-based mobile identification system initiated by major South Korean firms by the end of the succeeding year. The companies coming together for the project are KEB Hana Bank, Woori Bank, KOSCOM, SK Telecom, KT, LG UPlus, and Samsung Electronics.

Samsung has finally incorporated a BTC function on its blockchain-assisting smartphones. The South Korean tech jumbo has enabled bitcoin features to SDK (software development kit) of models S10e, S10, S10+, and S10 5G, along with the Note10 and Note10+ devices. The kit will approve the android devices to associate blockchain addresses to the Keystore, confirm cryptocurrency transactions, and review the status.

Is South Korea apprehensive about Libra?

Libra, the facebook cryptocurrency is not yet launched but is winning in threatening nations worldwide. South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) stated how If 2.4 billion Facebook users worldwide transfer one-tenth of their bank deposits to Libra, the banks’ creditworthiness would vanish along with their loan reserves, framing a menace to the upcoming markets.

The Korean professionals are divided in their views on Libra. Where some think out it as an achievement in the crypto business, some believe it to be an insufficient decentralized network. It can either ascend the values of digital coins or ultimately reduce the value of fiat currencies.

As reported by Korea, if a global social platform like facebook will buy its bonds rather than depositing with customer funds, the financial status of banks are all the way downhill. Furthermore, if Libra permits overseas transactions, the trillions of nation’s money would be extensively lessened.

Cryptic future of crypto in South Korea

The portrait of digital currencies is evaluated to be blurry in South Korea. Although the country takes blockchain technology to peaking heights, its take on the crypto world is still uncertain. The declaration of the execution of S-coins in Seoul is just a take of pseudo-cryptocurrency, as the possession and control of the coins will persist under the government.

The country’s ride to salutary and durable blockchain adoption might be a stepping stone to a positive crypto world in South Korea, though what the future holds remains a mystery.

Disclaimer: The article reflects the opinions of the author and is not representative of Chaintimes’ views.
The article does not offer any investment advice. User discretion is advised when investing in or trading with cryptocurrency. Extensive and diligent research should be carried out by the reader before making a decision.

Harry Finnerty
Harry Finnerty
After completing his graduation from Strayer University, Harry started to work in the real estate industry. However, soon he realized that his real interest is in the financial industry and once he came to know about bitcoin and the technology behind it, he dedicated his life to understand and write about it.

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