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South Korea Scraps Crypto Trading Ban, Stricter Rules In Sight

South Korea is not banning cryptocurrency trading, at least not any time soon.

South Korean President’s executive office Blue House spokesperson Jung Ki-joon reaffirmed the public in a press conference on January 15.

Jung further explained that the cryptocurrency regulation task force, created by the government, will instead alter the original proposal of banning cryptocurrency in order to regulate the market more efficiently. This, among other things, means that from January 20, South Korea will be banning foreigners and underage investors from trading cryptocurrencies. By the end of this month, traders who refuse to convert their virtual accounts to real-name ones will be fined, although the amount is yet to be specified. However, some banks refuse to introduce a real-name verification process system, leaving investors scrambling for solutions.

This was prompted by Justice Minister Park Sang-ki’s remark, "There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges." This caused many investors to sell their assets because they felt that without South Korea's presence in the market, prices would tank.

The public has been quick to heavily criticize the government for its inability to properly regulate the cryptocurrency market. "Calling Bitcoin a tulip bubble is ridiculing the South Korean people. It’s a baseless condemnation of the currency. Gov't should focus on fostering crypto market if it doesn’t want to be left behind”, said Nam Keong-pil, a Member of the National Assembly. Over 200,000 people have signed a petition to stop government's crackdown on the Bitcoin "happy dream", CNBC reports.

According to Joseph Young, a finance and cryptocurrency analyst, a petition to fire the head of the Ministry of Justice over the cryptocurrency trading fiasco has been filed.

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