Bitcoin's Surge to $72K in South Korea Marks the Return of Kimchi Premium

Bitcoin hits $72,000 in South Korea as the Kimchi Premium widens, indicating a notable divergence in global cryptocurrency pricing.

Bitcoin's Surge to $72K in South Korea Marks the Return of Kimchi Premium


The cryptocurrency world is buzzing with the resurgence of the Kimchi Premium in South Korea as Bitcoin reaches a staggering $72,000 on Upbit, the nation's leading crypto exchange. This phenomenon highlights a distinct price divergence, spotlighting South Korea's unique market dynamics.

The Return of the Kimchi Premium

In early February, the cryptocurrency community witnessed the return of the Kimchi Premium, a term that describes the higher price of Bitcoin in South Korea compared to the global average. This price discrepancy reflects South Korea's intense demand and the peculiarities of its market. The Korea Premium Index, which tracks this divergence, climbed from 5.19 on February 28 to 6.84 on March 5, signaling a growing interest among South Korean investors.

Market Dynamics Behind the Surge

The rise in Bitcoin's price in South Korea is not mirrored by a similar increase in spot Bitcoin ETFs within the country, as institutional demand in the United States predominantly drives the global price rally. Instead, the surge is fueled by retail spot buying in South Korea, showcasing a divergent market dynamic from the global trend. This pattern of retail investment underscores the critical role of individual investors in the South Korean cryptocurrency market.

Historical Context of the Kimchi Premium

The Kimchi Premium is not a new phenomenon. It first caught the attention of the financial world in 2016 and has since been a subject of study, including a detailed analysis in a 2019 University of Calgary paper. This research revealed that between January 2016 and February 2018, Bitcoin prices on South Korean exchanges were on average 4.73% higher than in the United States. Such discrepancies have occasionally led to significant trading and arbitrage opportunities, though they are primarily attributed to market inefficiencies and the challenges of currency exchange and capital movement.

Potential for Regulatory Change

The ongoing interest in Bitcoin and the broader cryptocurrency market in South Korea has sparked discussions among financial regulators about potentially allowing spot Bitcoin ETFs in the country. Such a move could harmonize the price of Bitcoin in South Korea with global markets, potentially diminishing the Kimchi Premium. However, the path to regulatory approval is complex, with various opinions and considerations within South Korea's financial regulatory community.


The Kimchi Premium's resurgence is a fascinating development in the cryptocurrency world, highlighting South Korea's unique position and the global nature of Bitcoin trading. As the situation evolves, it serves as a reminder of the dynamic and ever-changing landscape of the global cryptocurrency market. For further insights and updates on the cryptocurrency market, visit our magazine.


  • What is the Kimchi Premium? The Kimchi Premium refers to the higher prices of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on South Korean exchanges compared to global averages.

  • Why does the Kimchi Premium occur? The Premium is primarily due to high demand in South Korea, combined with market inefficiencies and restrictions on currency exchange.

  • Could the introduction of spot Bitcoin ETFs in South Korea affect the Kimchi Premium? Yes, allowing spot Bitcoin ETFs in South Korea could potentially align domestic prices with global markets, reducing the Kimchi Premium.

  • What implications does the Kimchi Premium have for investors? The Kimchi Premium presents arbitrage opportunities but also highlights the challenges of market inefficiencies and regulatory considerations in global cryptocurrency trading.

For more detailed analyses and the latest trends in the cryptocurrency market, ensure to check out our resources and insights at Kiksee Magazine.

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