Bitcoin ‘Kimchi Premium’ in South Korea Goes to Discount

South Korea’s “Kimchi Premium” – a metric showing crypto’s price difference in global exchanges and such located in the Asian nation – went into a discount territory for the first time since January 18.

This indicates that buying digital assets, such as bitcoin, is cheaper on Korean platforms than on Binance or other leading players, usually meaning that local users’ interest has declined.

Flipping to Discount

The “Kimchi Premium” – a phenomenon bearing the name of a traditional Korean meal – turned to a discount, showing a disparity in the valuation of the primary cryptocurrency on local and global trading venues.

One bitcoin currently trades at around $24,655 on Bithumb and $24,650 on Korbit, while the price is $24,800 on Binance and $24,850 on Coinbase. The figure is also lower on Upbit ($24,700) and Coinone ($24,648).

The analytics platform CryptoQuant showed the fluctuations of the metric in the past month. During most days, the price of BTC was relatively higher on Korean platforms than in such based outside the East Asian country, which usually indicates increased interest in the asset from local investors.

Bitcoin: Korea Premium Index, Source: CryptoQuant

Taking a look at the graphic representing the last few years, one could notice that the “Kimchi Premium” was on discount towards the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 (when BTC was on a bull run). The metric went into a similar territory in November 2022 (when the entire cryptocurrency market was shaking due to FTX’s demise).

Bitcoin: Korea Premium Index
Bitcoin: Korea Premium Index, Source: CryptoQuant

Binance’s Return to South Korea

Reports emerged recently that the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange wanted to purchase a 41.2% stake in one of the leading digital asset platforms in South Korea – Gopax – to re-enter the local market. The latter halted operations in November due to unfavorable macroeconomic conditions. 

Binance reportedly completed the deal nearly two weeks ago, using finances from its $1 billion Industry Recovery Initiative. CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) thinks his exchange’s return to the region could “rebuild the Korean crypto and blockchain industry.”

Yibo Ling – Chief Business Officer at Binance – outlined the primary goal of the agreement was to form a “fundamental thrust” among domestic consumers and “make sure that any customers who want to withdraw their assets have the ability to do so.”

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