More than 200,000 sign petition in South Korea to stop government's crackdown on bitcoin 'happy dream'

More than 200,000 sign petition in South Korea to stop government's crackdown on bitcoin 'happy dream'
Men talk in front of an electric board showing exchange rates of various cryptocurrencies at Bithumb cryptocurrencies exchange in Seoul, South Korea.
PHOTO: Reuters

A petition in South Korea against cryptocurrency regulation has reached the number of signatures that would induce a government response.

As of Tuesday morning, ET, more than 212,700 had signed a petition launched Dec. 28 on the website of the South Korean presidential office. A Google translation of the website states that if more than 200,000 people support a petition within 30 days, officials will respond.

"Our people have been able to make a happy dream that they have never had in Korea because of virtual money," the anonymous author of the petition wrote, according to a Google translation. "People are not stupid. ... virtual money is invested because it is judged to be the fourth revolution."

The petition did support South Korea's recent actions on cryptocurrencies, such as banning anonymous trading accounts.

"However, I wish that the economy will not decline due to unjustifiable regulations in the present situation," the Google translation of the petition said.

Unemployment among South Korean youth, or those ages 15 to 29, is around 9 per cent, nearly three times the national average, according to Statistics Korea. Young people are generally more interested in buying and selling digital currencies than their elders.

In the last several months, South Korea has accounted for a significant portion of the trading volume in digital currencies such as bitcoin, ethereum and ripple. Earlier this month, ripple prices appeared to plunge in US dollar terms after CoinMarketCap said it was excluding price information from some Korean exchanges due to "extreme divergences in price from the rest of the world."

South Korean regulators have become increasingly vocal in the last few weeks on trying to limit speculation in digital currencies.

Bitcoin briefly fell more than 17 per cent to a six-week low after South Korea Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said that shutting down digital currency exchanges is still an option for the government, according to an English-language report Tuesday from South Korea's Yonhap News.

However, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said in a separate Tuesday report from Yonhap that shutting down the digital currency exchanges would require approval from the National Assembly.


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