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South Korea ‘Considering’ Shutting Cryptocurrency Exchanges [Rinse, Repeat]

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:03 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:03 PM

The head of Korea’s primary financial regulator has said the government is considering shuttering all domestic cryptocurrency exchanges. Alternatively, the ban could only loom over exchanges breaking the law.

The ongoing debacle of South Korean policymakers and officials delivering contrasting statements about the legality of domestic cryptocurrency trading just took another turn. Quoting the chief of South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC), Reuters  is reporting that the Korean government isn’t ruling out the possibility of a complete shut down of domestic cryptocurrency exchanges.

Responding to questions in Korea’s parliament, the financial regulator chief reportedly said:

(The government) is considering both shutting down all local virtual currency exchanges or just the ones who have been violating the law.

In a separate news conference yesterday, Korea’s central bank governor reportedly added: “cryptocurrency is not a legal currency and is not being used as such as of now.”

The about-face comes in the days following an official statement to the contrary from the official residence and office of the President. The office’s spokesperson stressed any crackdown by the government would extend to anonymous trading accounts and not the wider market.

South Korea is among the world’s largest markets for cryptocurrency trading. Digital currencies have permeated into Korean society to such an extent that Korean prime minister, after an emergency meeting to discuss the adoption of cryptocurrencies, deemed it a “pathological phenomenon.”

The Korean government has already seen a backlash against a blanket ban, first proposed by justice minister, by outraged citizens earlier this month. The government’s own finance ministry has also refused to endorse a blanket ban on cryptocurrencies. “We do not share the same views as the Ministry of Justice on a potential cryptocurrency exchange ban,” the Ministry of Finance said.

Korea’s increased scrutiny on cryptocurrency trading comes at a time when China is reportedly escalating its hostile stance against cryptocurrency trading and mining.

Featured image from Shutterstock.