The price of Bitcoin to Korean Won has plummeted from a high of approximately ₩26.3 million KRW (~$25,065 USD) to about ₩7.6 million KRW (~$7,241 USD).
Approximately 3 in 10 salaried workers in Korea were said to have invested in cryptocurrency by December 2017, and 80% of those people were millennials in their 20s to 30s.
Investing in cryptocurrencies had seemed like a fair, lucrative opportunity to young Korean adults as many of them are struggling to find a decent job in an extremely educated society with a rigid hierarchy.
“The design of Korean society is a big reason why the cryptocurrency became so popular… People here are generally unhappy with their current status in society.” — Yohan Yun, assistant reporter
As a result, South Korea comprised 17% of all Ethereum trading (one type of cryptocurrency) and it was reported that two of the top three exchanges worldwide were from South Korea.
The frenzy caused some coins to cost up to 51% more in Korea, which drew foreign traders to sell their currency in the Korean market for profit. This is part of what prompted the South Korean government to crack down on cryptocurrency trading within the country.
With such a high number of Koreans investing in cryptocurrency, when the prices of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other currencies plummeted, many millennials in Korea found themselves extremely emotionally distressed.
“Korean psychologists have reported an uptick of patients from the so-called ‘Bitcoin blues,’ divorce counselors say marriages are splitting from failed investments, and even the country’s prime minister said that virtual currencies are on track to cause ‘serious distortion or pathological social phenomena’ among Korea’s young population.”
There have even been reports of Koreans who died by suicide because of how much they lost investing in cryptocurrency.
There are still plenty of citizens who have shrugged off the losses from their cryptocurrency investments, as they turn back to their original career paths and look for more stable investments.
“Lee, [a] university student who lost half of his own Bitcoin investments, says he’s still looking to become a gym teacher, a goal he maintained during the craze. ‘Money is not the only thing in life,’ he says.”