Bitcoin Price Tumbles as S. Korea Discusses Ban

Other digital currencies also dropped
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 17, 2018 12:21 AM CST
Bitcoin Price Tumbles as S. Korea Discusses Ban
A screen shows the prices of bitcoin at a virtual currency exchange office in Seoul, South Korea. .   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

Prices of bitcoin and other digital currencies skidded Tuesday after South Korea's top financial policymaker said a crackdown on trading of cryptocurrencies was still possible, the AP reports. Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said in an interview with local radio station TBS that banning trading in digital currencies was "a live option." He said the decision was subject to a thorough government review. "There are no disagreements over regulating speculation," such as using real-name accounts and levying taxes on cryptocurrency trading, Kim said. Shutting down digital currency exchanges is "a live option but government ministries need to very seriously review it," he said.

Bitcoin tumbled more than 20% during trading Tuesday, dipping below $10,000 at one point, and the price of Ethereum, another digital currency, fell almost 30% to $932. South Korean officials' remarks have swayed the global markets for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the past few weeks. The country has seen a huge bitcoin craze, with young and old betting on the cryptocurrency to build wealth. The high demand from South Korean investors has created what investors call a "kimchi premium," the extra price the South Koreans have to pay to buy digital currencies, sold in South Korea at higher than the average global prices. An online petition on the presidential office's website has drawn more than 210,000 requests from people asking the government not to ban trading in digital currencies.

(Read more bitcoin stories.)

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