You could write a book about South Korea’s relationship with the cryptocurrency market. Over the past twelve months, Bitcoin has been in a state of back and forth, with it teetering on the brink of seemingly being banned. However, the tide has now turned, with South Korea making a clear and defining statement – Bitcoin won’t be banned.
Facing a Bitcoin ban backlash
South Korea has certainly taken long enough to reach a decision on the legal status of Bitcoin, largely as it’s had a hard time establishing a regulatory course. Along with confirming that Bitcoin will remain legal, the South Korean government has also outlined its intention to “prevent any illegal acts or uncertainties”. The most recent statement comes from Hong Nam-Ki (Minister for Government Policy Coordination), as he felt compelled to respond to the recent backlash against rumors of South Korea implementing severe regulation or – as an extreme measure – an outright cryptocurrency ban.
The power of the people
With the potential end of Bitcoin on South Korean shores looming, the public spoke up via a petition. Gathering more than 200,000 signatures, it meant that the petition had to be forwarded to the South Korean government for discussion. It’s safe to say that while 200,000 people signed the petition, the number of people angered by South Korea’s hard-line approach to Bitcoin is actually far greater. Responding to those concerned about a potential crypto-crackdown, Hong said, “The government’s basic rule is to prevent any illegal acts or uncertainties regarding cryptocurrency trade, while eagerly nurturing blockchain technology.” This statement proves to be very telling, as it shows that South Korea is looking to “nurture” blockchain moving forward rather than turning away from it. However, amidst all the positive words from Hong, he did issue a word of warning, “The government is still divided with many opinions ranging from an outright ban on cryptocurrency trading to bringing the institutions that handle the currency into the system.”
Looking at the options
What followed words from Hong was an official statement from the office of Kim Dong-Yeon (South Korean Finance Minister), “There is no intention to ban or suppress cryptocurrency”. He was also quick to emphasize that there are “many options” open to South Korea when it comes to how it handles the cryptocurrency market moving forward. It’s great to see South Korea step-up and address the controversy over a potential Bitcoin ban.
The sheer level of public backlash following Park Sang-Ki (South Korean Justice Minister) announcing that laws were being prepared that would ban both cryptocurrency exchanges and all related trading has been huge. The petition gathered momentum sooner after, effectively forcing the government to revaluate the decision. What’s now been suggested is that South Korea introduces a crypto exchange licensing scheme – similar to New York’s BitLicense system – which will further legitimize cryptocurrency trading in the country.
South Korea completes an amazing U-turn!
In Asia, there is no denying that Japan is the leading crypto nation. However, South Korea appears to have done a complete U-turn and could very well find itself emerging as Bitcoin-friendly country nation in the months and years to come. While it’s certainly early days at this point, South Korea’s decision to discount a Bitcoin ban represents great news and could very well lead to it becoming a crypto hotbed.