South Korea Clarifies Position on Crypto Regulation Amidst Confusion in Mainstream Media

Stricter regulations for South Korea’s cryptocurrency trading industry were announced Sunday, Jan. 14, amidst continued confusion in mainstream media about a proposed ban on cryptocurrency trading by the country’s Justice Minister last week.

Reports in local news agency Yonhap claimed Sunday, Jan. 14, that requirements for Korean traders to use their real names for cryptocurrency trading accounts, a potential regulation reported earlier in January, will indeed come into effect by the end of this month, citing “the authorities.”

Yonhap reports that fines will also be imposed for those who do not comply with the new regulations, though the fine amount has yet to be determined.

Yonhap quotes today’s government statement as saying:

“The proposed shutdown of exchanges that the justice minister recently mentioned is one of the measures suggested by the justice ministry to curb speculation.

A governmentwide decision will be made in the future after sufficient consultation and coordination of opinions.”

The publication added:

“Monday's announcement suggests that a shutdown is not likely in the near future.”

The turbulent regulatory landscape in South Korea has resulted in fragmented information appearing on a daily basis as to how cryptocurrency will ultimately fare under Seoul’s jurisdiction.

In the latest news from Monday, Jan. 15, an official statement from the Office for Government Policy Coordination was released stating that a ban on cryptocurrency is not in the works and that the government has yet to come to a final decision.

Mainstream media misreports

On Jan. 11, Justice Minister Park Sang-ki proposed banning crypto trading in a press conference. The subsequent misinterpretation of his comments in mainstream media caused confusion on social media, which was repeatedly corrected by local correspondents and traders on Twitter.

Nevertheless, the FUD -- Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt -- caused by the Minister’s comments and the misleading reporting on them evidently led to a cryptocurrency sell-off that same day.

Public sentiment on the ground suggests a genuine consensus to keep trading open and accessible, with last week’s petition to reject a ban on cryptocurrency trading gathering over 150,000 signatures by press time. If the petition reaches 200,000 signatures by Jan. 27, it will compel a government response, the Wall Street Journal reports.