Presidential website swamped with cryptocurrency-related petitions

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-01-12 10:46 Updated : 2018-01-12 10:46
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[Thiis screenshot image was captured from the presidential Blue House website]

SEOUL, Jan. 12 (Aju News) -- The window for public petitions at South Korea's official presidential website has been swamped with more than 2,000 appeals opposing or supporting government regulations on cryptocurrency trading.

The first petition was posted on December 28 to oppose regulations, followed by a flurry of appeals this week. As of Friday, some 2,600 petitions related to cryptocurrencies were counted, turning the presidential website into a place for heated debate.

The December 28 petition has attracted more than 75,000 supporters. About 70 percent of follow-up appeals opposed government regulations or intervention in South Korea's cryptocurrency market.

"Our people have been able to make a happy dream that they have never had in Korea because of virtual money," the December 28 petition read, accusing the government of imposing "unreasonable" regulations. "The government thinks it protects the people, but the people think that the government takes away our dreams."

Hundreds of petitions were posted Thursday soon after Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said the government aims to ban virtual currency trading, triggering panic selling at exchanges.

Park insisted the justice ministry has secured consent from other government agencies on the proposed shutdown of exchanges. Surprised at widespread public jitters, the office of President Moon Jae-in moved quickly to water down Park's remarks, saying a final government decision has yet to come.

Yoon Young-chan, the president's chief press secretary, said in a statement that shutting down cryptocurrency exchanges was "one possible measure" being considered by the government. He said a final decision would be made through further discussions among government agencies.

Panic selling subsided on Friday, but market sentiment was still weak. There are about 20 virtual currency exchanges in South Korea, many of them established in recent years.