South Korea has been a hotbed of cryptocurrency-related controversy over the past few weeks, with its government having proposed legislation to ban the exchange of any and all cryptocurrencies by any companies located within the country’s borders in December. Now, it looks like they’re getting closer to doing so thanks to a Thursday statement by Park Sang-ki, the country’s Justice minister, as reported by Reuters.
At a press conference, Park said, “There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and the justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges.”
However, nothing has been finalized as of yet, so the ban on cryptocurrency in South Korea is not set in stone. According to Korea Times, office spokesperson Yoon Young-chan, “Park’s remarks are just one of the options on the table.” As this is the case, Park’s statement is more of a reasoning for the band as opposed to a final ruling.
According to Young-chan, “A bill will be introduced after detailed discussion between related government agencies.”
Adding on to the uncertainty of the policy is the fact that, according to Reuters, the legislation, if passed, could take years to take effect.
In September, China closed down Bitcoin exchange within their borders, which caused the Bitcoin market to take a pretty big dip (although it did shoot back up later on in the year). Since then, South Korea has been progressively moving toward making similar legislation, despite the fact that cryptocurrencies are super popular in the country. In fact, the value of Bitthumb, the country’s most popular cryptocurrency, is so high that CoinMarketCap has actually had to exclude it from their reports in order to make averages more accessible to everyone else in the world.
This morning we excluded some Korean exchanges in price calculations due to the extreme divergence in prices from the rest of the world and limited arbitrage opportunity. We are working on better tools to provide users with the averages that are most relevant to them.
— CoinMarketCap (@CoinMarketCap) January 8, 2018
The fact that cryptocurrency is so popular in South Korea could mean that a ban on their exchanges could have a significant effect on the country’s economy. It’s unclear as of right now whether it will be for better or for worse, as we’ll have to wait a while longer to see if the ban comes into effect at all.