Bitcoin trading could soon be outlawed in one of the virtual currency’s biggest markets.
The South Korean government is preparing a bill to ban trading in all cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said Thursday.
“There are great concerns regarding virtual money,” Park told reporters in Seoul. “The government has repeatedly warned about the fact that it is a very dangerous transaction but the message has not properly been delivered,” he said.
Park didn’t give details on when the bill would be introduced in parliament. But his comments prompted bitcoin to fall sharply. The digital currency, which is known for its volatility, dropped around 14% before recovering slightly in early afternoon trading in Asia.
Ethereum, another cryptocurrency hugely popular in South Korea, also fell 14%.
A frenzy of cryptocurrency trading swept South Korea last year, helping propel huge gains in bitcoin and other virtual coins.
But the country’s government has been moving toward greater regulation of digital currencies in recent weeks, introducing a new law in late December that gives authorities the power to shut down bitcoin exchanges.
Such moves remain a possibility, Park said, before likening cryptocurrency trading to speculation and gambling.
“The government’s basic position is that virtual currency trading is extremely dangerous and the bubble may burst anytime,” he said.