The selected news
article is “Old hands in South Korea Bitcoin market unfazed by threats of ban”
from Reuters which was published on January 18, 2018. This article reported about
the a potential cryptocurrency trading ban in South Korea which is a threat to
all cryptocurrency traders. A ban could discourage new market entries (Kim
& Zaharia, 2018).
The ethical dilemma is described in the form of a question as: Are
the cryptocurrency trading ban in South Korea justified? As demonstrated by a survey,
it revealed that three out of ten salaried workers in South Korea have traded
and invested in cryptocurrencies (Horwitz, 2018). On the presidential office’s
website, an online petition, there were more than 210,000 requests drawn by people
asking the government not to ban trading in digital currencies (Griffin, 2018).
As an ethical dilemma, the people’s right to trade cryptocurrencies possesses
more challenges as government regulations takes place. The ethical dilemma is
explained by different questions such as; does the government restriction
violate the right of earning income? Does the regulation on cryptocurrencies ban
impose negative economic prospects among people? Do the regulations raise
concerns over South Korean money flowing to foreign entities? These questions
are summarized into the argument as stipulated below: Should the government
pass a Bitcoin trading ban in South Korea?
Since 2008, Bitcoin adoption has been
affected by a diverse range of elements which have made it one of the most
volatile currencies in the world. In addition, more than 100,000 Bitcoin transactions
occur daily and the volume continues to grow due to the permissionless
innovation provided by Bitcoin’s technology so called “the blockchain” (Jessop,
2015). Bitcoin can operate without traditional financial institutions’ involvement
and can provide an alternative of direct digital to physical commodities and currencies.
Governments around the globe see Bitcoin and other digital currencies as
a destabilizing threat, and some scholars have argued that it should
be seen as a speculative investment (Ward, 2015). However, in March 2013, The
US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) issued the form of a guidance
report for exchanging, individuals administering, or using virtual currency
which is some of the world’s first Bitcoin regulation (Jessop, 2015). The CRS
report noted that the responsibility to supervise digital currency will be on
Congress because of the given powers articulated in the U.S. Constitution,
especially the authority to regulate the value and coin money thereof. At
present, the Senate Finance Committee can only ask the Government
Accountability Office (GAO) to review compliance risks and tax requirements,
and Congressional actions are still in the exploratory phase (Ward, 2015).
In South Korea, digital-currency trading
has become extremely popular and it is currently the world’s third-largest
cryptocurrency trading market. The government is preparing a bill that would
ban cryptocurrency trading on domestic exchanges and it is citing “great
concerns” about the technology, the nation’s justice minister revealed (Orcutt,
2018). On January 11 this year, Coinone and Bithumb’s offices were raided by
police, two of the South Korean’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges are on
suspicions of tax evasion. Park Sang-Ki, Justice Minister, said that the
government was preparing a legislation which would ban trading on domestic
cryptoasset exchanges in the same day (Horwitz, 2018). The crackdown
placed concerns on investors and
affected the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It will require a
majority vote of the National Assembly once the bill is written, that means it
may take months or years to pass (Orcutt, 2018). According to the website
Coinhills.com, South Korea shares about 15% of global Bitcoin trading market,
the way regulators approach this issue will likely have international
effects. The local price of Bitcoin in South Korea bounced back on January
12, 2018 to 19.3 million won ($17,481.20) from 17.5 million won ($16,445.82)
according to Bithumb which is the nation’s second-largest cryptocurrency
exchange. Moreover, On the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp, Bitcoin price was at
$13,709 after touching $12,800 on the prior day (Kim & Yang, 2018). President
Moon Jae-in is in a tough spot after the online uprising against the
government’s plans, and a ban is just one proposal under consideration (Kim
& Yang, 2018).
On the other hand, country like Singapore
and Hong Kong is maintaining light regulations, while Japan has encouraged investors
around digital assets by pioneering a set of rules for the industry and created
a vast ecosystem of companies. Germany also mentioned that national
restrictions might be useless on cryptocurrencies (Kim & Zaharia, 2018).
Side One Argument – Disagree
Person 1: Lee Min-Kyung, a
25-year old student in a Seoul-based graduate school said that she earned about
18 million won ($16,973.93), after her initial investment in Bitcoin (Kim & Yang, 2018). This argument
is based on the fact that government is showing random responses just because officials
have no idea what the market is.
2: One of South Korean petitioners, Kung Seo-Yang who disagrees with the
Bitcoin ban stated “the citizens were able to have a happy dream that we had
never had in South Korea thanks to crypto currency,” the government is not
protecting the public but citizens think that the government is stealing their
dream (Griffin, 2018). With Bitcoin, young and old citizens can use the cryptocurrency
to build their wealth.
3: Park Tae-Bin, a 30-year-old nurse in Seoul, said that she had already
switched to Hong Kong-based exchange Binance before the government placed the
warning to the market because the restriction will not allow people to trade
and cash out, which violate the right of earning income (Kim & Zaharia,
Person 4: Kim Do-young, a 34-year-old
audio producer in Seoul, said he was drawn to Bitcoin because it was easy to
open an account and it was a good chance to make a fast money (Bloomberg, 2017).
It is a freedom of financial accessibility, which people could have.