Business 12 January 2018

Cecille de Jesus

False alarm: South Koreans want minister fired after false cryptocurrency ban announcement

Yesterday, the crypto community was rattled by the news that South Korea—which holds a huge chunk of the crypto trading market—is banning cryptocurrencies. The announcement came from the country’s Justice Minister Park Sang-ki in a news conference.

“There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and the justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges,” Park said.

But now, the Blue House—the South Korean president’s residence and executive office, is issuing a retraction of the announcement, saying there is no official decision to banning cryptocurrencies.

In fact, there probably won’t even be a ban at all in the future, as a spokesperson said that South Korea may be following Japan’s footsteps in dealing with the new technology to ensure that their market remains competitive.

“The South Korean government has no other choice but to follow the regulatory frameworks and trends established by other leading governments. While there certainly exists a negative reputation attached to the cryptocurrencies, the government’s stance is to allow what has to be allowed, for the benefit of the South Korean market.”

Although the clarification came soon enough, the mistake is a very costly one—particularly in a market with unprecedented volatility. Announcements like this directly and quickly affect token prices. In this case, some estimate that the cryptocurrency market lost an estimated $80 billion as holders went on a panic sell-off after the false alarm.

Consequently, the Blue House said that over 60,000 citizens are calling for the termination of the Justice Minister, who made the announcement without the executive office’s approval. Such an impeachment isn’t unprecedented: just last year, South Koreans successfully took down then president Park Geun-hye –their first female president, and first ever to be impeached—amid corruption charges. She’s now in jail awaiting trial.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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