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​South Korea mulls virtual currency exchange shutdown

The South Korean government is considering shutting down all virtual currency exchanges or just those violating the law, the boss of the country's financial regulator says.

South Korea is considering shutting down all local virtual currency exchanges, the country's finance regulator chief said Thursday.

Answering MP questions from the country's National Assembly in a national policy committee meeting, Choi Jong-ku, head of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), said the government was considering "both options" of either shutting down all virtual currency exchanges or the ones that are breaking the law.

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He also stressed that virtual currencies were not financial services or products. Businesses or institutes in finance in South Korea are not allowed to own or invest in services that are not deemed by the FSC to be financial services or services, and are therefore not allowed to own virtual currencies.

In a separate press conference, Bank of Korea chief Lee Ju-yeol said virtual currencies cannot be considered currencies and that regulation is needed to protect consumers.

Bitcoin prices took a sharp downturn on Wednesday due to fears of a crackdown from South Korea, falling below $10,000, half the price of its peak a month ago.

Last month, the South Korea's justice minister announced that the country was planning to ban virtual currency trading, but other agencies said nothing has been finalized.

Involved ministries, however, concur there is a need for regulation.

Fear of regulation has prompted a petition to the Blue House, South Korea's equivalent of the US' White House, that the government not ban virtual currency trading.

On Monday, the country's technology minister had to quell fears that there will be more regulations on blockchain as well, saying that blockchain and virtual currency must be viewed separately.

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