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Business Insight

Cryptocurrencies: South Korea's winding regulatory path

Government's efforts to clamp down meet with resistance from investors and exchanges

Over 200,000 South Koreans signed a petition to stop bitcoin regulation in January.   © Reuters

In recent years the South Korean government's reaction to the new cryptoeconomy has been the opposite of that of its citizens. While South Korea is one of the hottest investing and trading markets for cryptocurrencies -- an estimated 1 in 3 salaried South Korean workers have invested in tokens or coins -- the government's reactions have been, until recently, anything but ecstatic.

They ranged from confusion to anger. At the end of last year, Seoul threatened to ban not just initial coin offerings, the most popular way for blockchain startups to raise money, but all cryptocurrency trading. This prompted over 200,000 citizens to sign a petition to stop bitcoin regulation in January. 

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