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Over the past six months, the vast majority of South Korea’s youth and millennials have invested thousands of dollars in the cryptocurrency market, with hopes to make big returns in the short-term.
However, the massive market correction that occurred in January led most of the investments of South Korean millennials to decline by half, especially those that have invested in cryptocurrencies like Ripple, which is down 3x since its all-time high.
Glimmer of Hope
Former Google intern 24-year-old Juwon Park told NBC News in an interview that she didn’t expect or want a fortune from her $2,500 investment in the market, but seeked for a glimmer of hope which the strict South Korean society fails to offer to most young adults.
In South Korea, many teenages are forced to a single system called the College Scholastic Ability Test, which is similar to the SAT of the US, to enter prestigious colleges. But, the lack of demand for university graduates and increase in demand for experienced individuals by companies have left millennials confounded and astray.
Consequently, many millennials have entered the cryptocurrency market, not necessarily to make a quick buck, but as a glimmer of hope.
“I didn’t want a fortune. I just wanted enough to give me that glimmer of hope. Now it’s gone,” said Park, adding that she had convinced her mother to invest another $25,000 in the market, which has decreased by more than 50 percent since January. “I wasn’t expecting 100 million won to fall from the sky. For me, because prices were rising so quickly, I thought they’d keep rising once I bought in. Then I realized I’d been too greedy.”
Park noted that she hopes the market will recover after it stabilizes, especially that the South Korean government and the US have demonstrated their willingness to efficiently regulate the global cryptocurrency market. “I am hoping that [after] this whole government regulation, once it gets sorted out, the price will normalize,” Park said.
As shown in the decline of the “Kimchi Premium,” which spiked to 30 percent at one point for most major cryptocurrencies, the speculative mania in South Korea, specifically amongst millennials, has settled down since the major correction.
Elaine Ramirez, a tech analyst based in Seoul, told NBC that the correction will allow the cryptocurrency market to gain greater opportunities, and ensure that weak hands or speculators do not lead to massive short-term bubbles.
“Its a global trend, and South Koreans are indulging in being at the forefront of it. On a macroeconomic level, it’s a way to gain greater opportunities when economic growth has been sluggish, and young adults see it as an escape from chronically high youth unemployment rates.”
The majority of speculators have also invested in many cryptocurrencies or tokens they do not have knowledge in, and solely due to FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. Long-term corrections–as in the cryptocurrency market, a few months are a relatively long period of time–prevent speculators from taking over the market and inflating the valuations of cryptocurrencies.
This is an optimistic trend for the entire cryptocurrency market, and it will allow major cryptocurrencies to regain momentum for more robust mid-term and long-term growth.