All four major South Korean crypto exchanges say they will block users with Russian IP addresses “in line with sanctions” – despite the fact that their overseas counterparts have ruled out making such a move without direct instruction from governments.
Asia Kyungjae reported that Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit have all apparently followed the lead of Gopax, a smaller exchange that earlier this week announced that it would no longer allow users with Russian IP addresses to use its platform.
The likes of Binance, Coinbase, and Kraken have all ruled out making such a move of their own accord, claiming it would represent an “ethical” violation. They have also stated that they will abide by existing sanctions that block flagged individuals from using financial resources. However, they have all stated that they will abide by sanctions that would require them to block Russia-based users if legally required to do so.
The South Korean crypto exchanges appear to be moving with public opinion, however, with many citizens and leading politicians calling for yet more punitive measures to target Russia.
Yesterday, the market-leading platform Upbit announced that “withdrawals of virtual assets from Russian IP addresses may be restricted, adding that customers “from high-risk countries have already been blocked from” the trading platform.
Rivals Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit have all blocked Russian IP addresses, as American lawmakers continue to debate ways to freeze Russians out of crypto – with measures including attempting to ban the trading of coins that were initially bought for rubles already being mooted.
However, not all trade between Russia and South Korea has been closed down. Yonhap reported that South Korea’s trade ministry has received an official exemption from the United States’ newest export restrictions.
Washington is keen to block Russia's access to semiconductors and other IT-related items. Semiconductors and other computer chips represent around a third of South Korea’s export economy, however – and to lose a customer of the size of Russia overnight would likely hit the nation’s economy hard.
The South Korean trade minister was quoted as stating that the exemption was proof that Washington and Seoul “have once again reaffirmed their strong cooperation.”