Cryptocurrency prices nosedive following minister’s shutdown remarks

Conflicting stances on ways to curb Korea’s
overheating virtual currency market. The Justice Minister on Thursday raised the
possibility of shutting down all cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. Sending investors into a panic,… the prices
of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies went into a tailspin… only stabilizing when the
presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae confirmed that no final decision has been made. Our Park Jong-hong tells us more. The resounding message was that virtual currency
trading was starting to look like gambling and speculation. In a New Year’s press meeting on Thursday,
Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said his ministry is preparing legislation that would basically
ban any transactions based on a virtual currency through the trading floor. This, in effect, means local cryptocurrency
exchanges would be shut down. (KOREAN)
“We are even aiming to shut down the exchanges. At this juncture, the trading of cryptocurrency
resembles speculation and gambling.” His remarks are in line with the government’s
stern stance in tackling the irrational cryptocurrency market in Korea often dubbed the Kimchi Premium,
a reference to prices that are much higher than the international norm. Minister Park dismissed views that such tough
measures amount to government market intervention, pointing to the United States and Japan which
have been limiting transactions in their own ways. He said it would be devastating if the bubble
burst and warned of the social repercussions that will result from tremendous financial
losses. The announcement caused the local price of
Bitcoin to plunge by around 20 percent. At around three PM on Thursday, Bitcoin traded
at a little over 17 million won, or roughly 16 thousand dollars, later climbing back to
the 20 million won level. The minister’s surprise announcement sparked
an online petition objecting the proposed plan. More than 55-thousand Koreans rushed to join
a petition demanding the presidential office halt the crackdown, crashing the Cheongwadae
website temporarily. The presidential office then moved to ease
jitters, saying no final decision has been made. Yoon Young-chan, chief press secretary to
President Moon Jae-in, said in a statement, that no decision has been reached… and it
will only be finalized through discussions and a coordination process with each government
ministry. Park Jong-hong, Arirang News.

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