One of the world’s most popular hubs for cryptocurrency, South Korea, is considering a ban on trading virtual currencies such as Bitcoin. The reasoning behind the proposed ban centers on concerns over tax evasion, gambling addition, and, most logically, fear that the speculative currency bubble will finally burst. Or as Justice Minister Park Sang-ki put it broadly, the government feels “great concerns” over the cryptocurrency frenzy. Naturally, news of the proposed legislation sent the highly volatile currency into a nosedive, shaving a cool $2,000 off the value of Bitcoin.
Talk of the ban has revealed a generational schism between government regulators and the mostly millennial-aged cryptocurrency users, who face bleak career opportunities in a country where the unemployment rate for the population under the age of thirty is three times higher than the national average. They government just can’t seem to see a good thing when it happens, or as a 25-year-old student-trader told Reuters, the government simply has “no idea” how to handle the crypto-boom. Naturally, the employed elders of the nation see the boom to be something like a financial oasis luring impressionable youth further into trouble. “Young people shouldn’t be lured into this kind of scam. There is always something fishy about things that grow this fast,” a 50-year-old mechanic said of the rocketing market.
There is, in fact, something fishy about things that grow this fast, and with the proposed ban, the South Korean government is calling out the crypto-boom for what it truly is: gambling. Token trading, says Justice Minister Sang-ki, “has started to resemble gambling and speculation.” The country has long banned gambling with only a few exceptions as when country allowed casinos for foreigners. Additionally, skilled gaming perceived to be conducive to gambling is illegal in the country.
According to to the BBC, 20 percent of all global Bitcoin transactions take place in South Korea. The number is impressive in light of the already-standing ban on foreigners participating in cryptocurrency trades. The nation also boasts over a dozen currency exchanges for everyone from college students to housewives to try their hand in the market. The level of trading has reached proportions that South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon has referred to as a “social pathological phenomena.” As anyone with a moderately tech-savvy friend can attest to, the psychological grip induced by crypto-trading is seriously annoying to witness. It’s only too good to see that one country is making an effort to curb it.