Over 218,000 South Koreans have signed a petition on President Moon Jae-in’s offical website against the regulation of virtual currencies.
The minimum number of signatories required for a government response is 200,000, meaning that the South Korean government has a commitment to answer the petition within 30 days.
The petition comes amid fears that the South Korean Ministry of Justice will bring forward a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges.
Justice Minister Park Sang-ki told news reporters last week that the justice ministry is “basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges.”
The petition calls for the government to not implement trading regulations that would destroy “a happy dream” that the cryptocurrency market has created in the country.
There is so much demand for cryptocurrencies in South Korea that they typically trade at a 30% premium compared to other markets. According to Coinhills, South Korea is the third-biggest market in the world for Bitcoin trades after Japan and the US.
The BBC reports that the appeal against cryptocurrency regulation has been “amplified” by the current state of the South Korean economy.
“Rising unemployment, especially among young people, is also being linked with a growing number of people looking at new ways to try and make money,” the BBC said.
“So unsurprisingly, with so many South Koreans keen to fulfil their financial hopes and dreams through cryptocurrency trades, there is resistance to plans for a crypto-clampdown,” the news agency added.
Threat of action has driven a massive sell-off in the global cryptocurrency market
Hundreds of billions have been wiped off the total market cap of cryptocurrencies this week alone.
Bitcoin has lost a quarter of its value over the past week and dipped to as low as $10,000 at one point – the cryptocurrency peaked at around $20,000 last month – while Ethereum and Ripple prices have also plunged by a considerable amount.
How the South Korean government will respond to the petition is unclear and the debate on whether there needs to be heightened regulations on cryptocurrencies appears as though it will continue for a quite a while.