Bitsonic CEO arrested for $7.5M theft in South Korea.

Bitsonic CEO arrested for $7.5M theft in South Korea.

The Blockchain Industry in South Korea: Challenges and New Regulations


In recent years, South Korea has been a hotbed for blockchain technology and cryptocurrency adoption. However, along with its rapid growth, the country has also faced numerous challenges, including fraudulent activities and a lack of legal protections for investors. In response, South Korea’s government has been taking proactive measures to address these issues and promote transparency in the blockchain industry. This article will provide an overview of the recent developments and shed light on the new regulations implemented by the South Korean authorities.

Bitsonic CEO Arrested for Alleged Fraud

South Korea’s local news publication, Chosun Biz, reported that Bitsonic CEO Jinwook Shin was arrested on August 7, 2023, over accusations of stealing investments and deposits from exchange users. According to prosecutors, Shin manipulated cryptocurrency prices and trading volume on Bitsonic, resulting in a fraudulent appropriation of approximately $7.5 million from users. Despite liquidity problems and suspending withdrawals, Bitsonic continued to provide cryptocurrencies to new customers. The investigation revealed that Shin employed a shell company in Singapore to facilitate this manipulation scheme.

South Korea Unveils New Team to Tackle Crypto Crime

To address the surge in crypto-related crimes and protect investors, South Korea recently established an interagency investigation team called the Joint Investigation Centre for Crypto Crimes. Comprised of individuals from various sectors, including the judiciary, finance, taxation, and customs, this team aims to fill the legal gaps and provide much-needed safeguards for market participants. Currently, the cryptocurrency market is not yet regulated by law in South Korea. However, the Prosecutors’ Office acknowledges the need for investor protection and has taken proactive steps towards achieving it.

Over the past five years, crimes related to cryptocurrencies in South Korea have increased by 118%, amounting to $797.81 million in damages in 2022. These crimes encompass manipulating prices, illegal foreign exchange transactions, and fraudulent schemes. The investigation team will focus on cryptocurrencies with high price swings or those being delisted from trading platforms. Their mandate includes targeting illegal trading practices, tax evasion, unauthorized transfers of foreign exchange, hiding criminal profits, and money laundering.

South Korea’s New Crypto Rules

Recognizing the importance of transparency in the crypto industry, the South Korean government passed new regulations in July aimed at promoting accountability and gathering comprehensive information about cryptocurrency companies. Starting next year, these companies will be required to disclose their crypto asset holdings in their financial reports.

The draft regulations, released by the Financial Services Commission (FSC) on July 11, will encompass details about the company’s business model, accounting practices, the amount of cryptocurrency it possesses, earnings, and the market value of its holdings. These measures are crucial to ensure that the crypto industry operates in a responsible and transparent manner, fostering trust among investors.

South Korea’s cryptocurrency market was once among the fastest-growing globally. However, due to a combination of international and domestic factors, it experienced a significant drop in value, declining by 66% in the previous year. This decline, along with higher interest rates, has severely dampened investor confidence.

In this rapidly evolving crypto world, South Korea needs to navigate the regulatory landscape carefully. While South Korea remains an important crypto market in Asia, other regions like Hong Kong are catching up fast. The implementation of new regulations and proactive measures indicates that South Korea is committed to maintaining its position as a leading blockchain hub. It will be interesting to see how these regulations and initiatives shape the future of the blockchain industry in South Korea and impact its standing on the global stage.

In conclusion, the recent arrest of Bitsonic’s CEO, along with the establishment of the Joint Investigation Centre for Crypto Crimes and the new crypto regulations, showcases South Korea’s dedication to address fraudulent activities and promote transparency in the blockchain industry. These developments, combined with the country’s efforts to navigate the evolving regulatory landscape, reaffirm South Korea’s position as a key player in the global blockchain ecosystem.