Much of Bitcoin’s declines in 2018 have been put down to worries that South Korea could restrict or even ban cryptocurrency trading. South Korea is one of the leading countries for crypto trading worldwide and fears were high that what its regulators did would echo through other countries. Also, that taking millions of enthusiastic South Korean traders out of the market would inevitably depress prices.

A petition signed by hundreds of thousands of South Koreans was presented to the Blue House, the presidential address, calling for no ban on cryptocurrency trading. Since then regulators have been walking back their tough stance.

It seems that with last month’s ban on anonymous trading accounts regulators now feel they have done enough.

The head of South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service, Choe Heung-sik, said today that he wants digital asset trading to be normalised, and that this is the principle driving his organisation’s attitude to digital currencies.

There is an acknowledgement that cryptocurrency trading is here to stay and the government must somehow make an accommodation with it. It seems that authorities are content to allow trading and exchanges, provided anonymity is removed and anti money laundering regulations implemented.

Choe Heung-sik even went so far as to say that banks such as Hana and Kookmin, who are currently refusing to trade with crypto exchanges, would be encouraged to do so, now the real name system has been adopted.

News also came through today that South Korean official Jung Ki-joon had died of a suspected heart attack. Jung Ki-joon had led the government’s Economic Policy Coordination Office and was in charge of coordinating the opinions of the various government ministries. A tug of war has been going on within the South Korean government over whether to allow cryptocurrencies to continue as an engine of growth, or shut them down to prevent destabilisation of the economy. Jung Ki-joon’s colleagues have raised the possibility that the stress of this role might have contributed to his death.

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