Behind the slow rising adoption of virtual currencies across the world, is a generation of young South Koreans banking on the promise that cryptocurrency hold.
Holding the Future
Millions of youths in South Korea who have found themselves in the lower cadres of social ladders or found opportunities hard to come by have turned their attention to digital currencies. If industries are pragmatic and stifling with educational requirements and skills, the promising world of cryptocurrency is open to receiving all and sundry. If anything, the promise of a richer and technologically evolved future sits well with youths and has lit a hope a brighter future. However, the shocking collapse of last year’s crypto market has thrown a lot of promises out of the window, and younger South Koreans have been swept along with it.
A generation of ‘dirt spoons’ as one young Korean, Mr. Kim calls it, see cryptocurrencies as a way out of the stifled opportunities that they are open to in the country. ‘Dirt spoons’ comes from a variation of metaphorical labels for social cadres, the other being golden spoons and silver spoons. Mr. Kim explains that the term refers to the swamping increase in people with less than average incomes. Income inequality is higher in Asia, and especially South Korea, compared to other elite countries.
The country’s rate of youth unemployment is more than 10.5 per cent. Kim who works as a part-time software developer for an eBook company admitted he made more than a thousand dollars a month in 2017 when the cryptocurrency market was at its peak. Last year however has seen him lose probably tens of thousands of dollars—yet he does not plan on giving up on cryptocurrency.
“I don’t think it’s fair that people call it gambling,” Mr. Kim said of his cryptocurrency obsession. “But there are elements of truth here and there.”
South Korea’s Influence in the Crypto Industry
South Korea is the third largest trader of Bitcoin in the whole world, behind only the US and Japan. The fact that cryptocurrencies have quietly seeped into South Korean culture makes it less of surprise, with its recent televised Block Battle—which supports young entrepreneurs leveraging crypto technology— broadcasting across the nation.
Jung Ki Young who got to the finals and impressed people with his interesting fashion and humor said he chose to because he wanted South Korea to see cryptocurrency more than strife for riches.
“Many people are very depressed these days because the price of Bitcoin has dropped,” he said in an interview. “It was my intention to give people a reason to laugh rather than trying to win the competition,” he said.