[FEBRUARY] Year of the Draggin’: Somber Times in South Korea

As East Asia approaches the end of this season’s Lunar New Year festivities, market sentiment within the cryptosphere is the most optimistic it’s been since Spring 2021. For those having trouble recalling that era, that’s back when Fast & Furious debuted its ninth (or was it fourteenth?) installment of automobile mayhem. Major developments abound these days, from the recent ETF approval to the upcoming Bitcoin halving. There is an undeniable feeling that the land is undergoing exciting, seismic shifts, and yet the mood in Korea is unmistakably subdued.

Oh sure, the Korean crypto community was filled with hope and hype about the SEC ETF approvals, along with the rest of the world. Things got glum quickly, however, when Korean agencies and regulatory bodies, such as FIU and DAXA, announced a ban on trading BTC spot ETFs for Korean nationals. The ban not only applied to the spot ETF but also futures ETFs that had previously been traded without issue.

Now the Korean crypto sector is facing mounting difficulties in terms of marketing as well, as DAXA initiated an investigation against OKX for unlicensed business operation in Korea. OKX’s use of KOLs to promote their jumpstart program triggered the investigation.

Further souring the local vibe was a series of arrests that took place in the past weeks in relation to the Haru/B&S/Delio scandal of last spring. Putting aside for a moment whether the arrests were justified or not, it’s hard to argue that witnessing one’s countrymen perform perp walks is generally not a harbinger of confidence.

Korean governmental authorities are on a warpath, and it’s obvious. The events of the coming months are sure to be pivotal to the formation of the nation’s crypto identity. It’s a somber thought to consider the possibility of getting left behind on the world stage.