South Korean prime minister Lee Nak-yeon has expressed public concern over cryptocurrency get-rich-quick investment image, and other potential negative impacts on youth. Bitcoin and other digital assets could also be a path towards crimes like drug trafficking, he said.
The Prime Minister stated in writing after a cabinet meeting, “There are cases in which young Koreans including students are jumping in to make quick money and virtual currencies are used in illegal activities like drug dealing or multi-level marketing for frauds.”
However, his chief concern is apparently teenagers’ involvement into drug crimes and pyramid schemes with their bitcoin earnings. The speculative rapid growth in the crypto market led many South Korean teenagers to earn “quick money”.
It’s not the first time the South Korean government has hit out cryptocurrencies. In October, it joined China in banning initial coin offerings (ICOs) and labeled them Ponzi schemes.
Bitcoin itself has long been controversial with governments thanks to its well-known name, either for its volatile nature or illegal activities associated with it. Governments seem particularly concerned about tax evasion.
None of this has prevented South Korea from becoming one of the world’s hottest locations for cryptocurrency trading.
According to data from CoinMarketCap, South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb leads the global daily trade volume with over $2 billion USD (value) traded in the past 24 hours. It is evident that cryptocurrencies are a big deal for South Koreans.
South Korea has a low crime rate, compared to many other Asian countries. Thus, the prime minister urged government agencies like the Ministry of Justice to keep the cryptocurrency market under surveillance.
Lee went on to present even darker potential effects of cryptocurrencies, saying “This can lead to serious distortion or social pathological phenomena if left unaddressed.” He asked government agencies to take measures to keep teenagers away from negative influences.
In its earlier days — when Silk Road and Mt. Gox were among its most famous names — a more controversial bitcoin was dubbed a transaction currency for criminals. In one article, bitcoin was even termed as the “blood diamonds” of the digital era.
However, the present shift has seen many celebrities and prominent business leaders divert attention towards the crypto industry.
Bitcoin has crossed the significant $11,000 threshold, even though many conventional financial businesses disapprove of it. Moreover, the CME’s forthcoming Bitcoin futures product could be a reason to spike bitcoin’s price even further.
The snowballing bitcoin price seems to laugh in the face of global banker and government criticism. Rational people know that even criminal use indicates cryptocurrency has real utility and value — and that criminals still use national fiat currencies at a rate bitcoin would struggle to match.
Will the South Korean government take any action against bitcoin owners? Or is it too late for that? Let’s hear your thoughts.