South Korea

Cryptocurrency information about South Korea

How many crypto owners are in South Korea?

It is estimated that 2 million people, 3.9% of South Korea’s total population, currently own cryptocurrency.¹

State of Crypto in South Korea

South Korea has long been labelled the crypto hotspot of Asia.² Home to exchange giants like Upbit, BitHumb, CoinOne, Korbit, and Gopax, South Korea first experience its boost in crypto popularity in 2017.³ Nearly up to 30% of all crypto trading worldwide is powered within the Korean market. Currently it is legal to own, sell and buy crypto assets in the country as crypto assets have not been legalised as official tender by the South Korean government.

Furthermore, South Korea seems to be on the right trajectory of consolidating its dominance as the crypto hub of Asia as seen in the recent presidential election, whereby they elected Yoon Suk-yeol, a pro-crypto politician. Pro-crypto laws and policies are currently in motion, such as the proposal for more favourable tax laws and the potential return of ICOs/IEOS.₇ 

South Korea Crypto Ownership Demographics

As of 2021, it is estimated that 54% of the crypto users in South Korea are male, and 46% are female.

According to a Forkast report, 31% of South Korean investors are in their 30s, 27% are in their 40s, and a quarter of them are in their 20s.

Are South Koreans open to crypto?

The average South Korean trader increased their crypto holdings by 64.2% in 2018, investing more than $6000 on average, a two-fold increase from the last survey.₁₀

Cryptocurrencies are popular investments among South Korea’s young generation who see them as a path to prosperity in a context of persistently high unemployment. South Korea has long been an early adopter of new technology, and the culture is such that people are quick to embrace new technological innovations and opportunities. Cryptocurrencies are stateless investments that appeal to South Korean investors wary of the political climate and their proximity to the threat posed by North Korea.

“For young Koreans, cryptocurrency seems like a rare shot at prosperity,” an article on the online publication The Verge states. The same article quotes a 20-something journalist who opines that cryptocurrency investments are also a means for a largely homogenous and well-educated workforce to distinguish themselves from peers.(11)

Crypto’s rising popularity in South Korea

  • Tailwinds for South Korea’s Crypto IndustryJuly 2022
    Back in early April 2022, The Korean Herald reported that SK Square, the investment backbone of South Korean conglomerate SK Group, announced that they would spend 2 trillion won (US$1.6 billion) in the next three years on semiconductors and blockchain. The CEO mentioned that the move is substantiated by the crypto-friendly environment within South Korea. The interest of the massive corporate entity is a reflection of South Korea’s continued surging interest in the crypto space.
  • Meet South Korea’s newly-elected pro-crypto President– March 2022
    The newly elected president has successfully won the hearts of many young South Koreans with his pro-crypto stance and promises on implementing more policies to fully embrace cryptocurrency as a nation. 
  • Coindesk: Young Koreans Turning to Crypto – April 2021
    Young South Koreans are reportedly turning to cryptocurrencies as a means of generating wealth in greater numbers, much to the chagrin of their employers. Many of South Korea’s young workers aged in their 20s and 30s are leaving their average-paying jobs to explore crypto day trading, according to a report by local news outlet The Chosun Ilbo on Tuesday. Their goal is to escape poverty and amass enough wealth to buy a home, a dream many young people worldwide feel is out of reach.
  • Cointelegraph: South Korea reportedly set to approve cryptocurrency-focused fund – April 2021
    The Naver News service in South Korea has reported that the country’s Financial Supervisory Service, or FSS, is set to approve a crypto-related fund application by Hanwha Asset Management, a subsidiary of South Korea’s insurance giant Hanwha Life Insurance. Quoting an official from the Korean Financial Investment Association, the report states that the FSS approval could arrive as early as Sunday.