The South Korean government today officially put to rest the recent rumors it plans to close all bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. However in announcing its decision, it warned investors to trade in digital assets at their own risk, and reserved the right to “strictly deal with” individual exchanges if they engaged in illegal activity.
Digital asset prices many of which had been sliding for the past few days on ambiguity and rumor from Korea, rebounded slightly as the news broke. However bitcoin itself remained low compared to recent months, sitting around $13,700 at press time.
Chosun.com news reported the commissioner of the Office of Economic Coordination, Chung Gi-jun, spoke to reporters Monday morning in Seoul, local time. He said (Google translated):
“Recently, the Minister of Justice said that the exchange-closing measures are one of the speculative measures proposed by the Ministry of Justice, in the special measures on December 28th last year. We will make the decision through sufficient consultation and coordination.”
“We will strictly deal with the illegal acts related to transactions such as price manipulation, money laundering and tax evasion through the joint investigation of prosecutors, police and financial authorities.”
Chung then added what has become the standard government warning on cryptocurrencies — they are not legal currency, and their value is not guaranteed or backed by anything. He said the government will continue to monitor the development of virtual currency technology and adjust policy accordingly.
No Shutdown of Exchanges Coming Soon, Traders Can Relax a Little
Hodlers and traders alike can rest assured (for now) that Korea will not run exchanges out of the country, as its close neighbor China did in late 2017.
At times, different branches of the South Korean government appeared to be at odds with each other over how to deal with the country’s rampant crypto-trading trends. The country’s exchanges, including Bithumb and Coinone have seen markedly higher volumes and prices than in other countries, leading some data trackers like CoinMarketCap to omit Korean data altogether.
The Korean justice minister last week appeared to suggest a complete shutdown was imminent, though the Office for Government Policy Coordination downplayed the remarks, according to Yonhap News Agency.
In any case, the issue appears to be settled… for now. Should Korean exchanges suffer further security issues, or should Koreans’ life savings appear in danger, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear further rumblings and rumors from government ministries.
Do you think this is the end of the Korean exchange rumors? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via PXhere, Chosun.com