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This Is How South Koreans Are Trading The North Korea Crisis

Something odd is going on in the cryptocurrency world of Ethereum each time a North Korean headline hits the tape...

The price of the cryptocurrency/platform Ethereum has soared in the last two weeks from under $180 to over $300 - massively outperforming its peers. At the same time South Korea's KOSPI has fallen just 3.5% and the Won dropped just 2.4% as its nuclear neighbor turns up the armageddon amplifier to '11'.

Goldman explains 'What Is Ethereum?'

 

Answer: A Platform 1st, a Cryptocurrency 2nd. Ethereum differs primarily from Bitcoin in the latter is set up to be an alternative to ‘real money’ while the former is more of a platform set up to run any decentralized application and automatically execute “smart contracts” when certain conditions are met. Ethereum offers a digital currency like Bitcoin – called Ether – but this is just one component of its smart contract execution and primarily used to facilitate and reward using the network. However, the rise of Ethereum has not come without setbacks, including the ~$60 million hack of "The DAO", a venture capitallike organization with the mission of “investing” in Ethereum-related start-ups and projects (and is no longer operational today).

Ethereum's recent dizzy rise and the catalysts for each volume surge...

So who is panic-buying the cryptocurrency each time a new level of sabre-rattling-ocity is reached?

For that, we look at the distribution of currencies traded in each virtual currency.

As is obvious, Bitcoin's distribution is relatively even, Dollars, Yuan, Won etc...

But one glance at Ethereum's distribution and it's clear that South Korea is dominant...far larger than Dollars or Yuan.

As Forbes recently wrote, Koreans are not only buying frequently -- they’re buying big, says Kim. “When I started buying Bitcoin [on a local exchange], I noticed a huge difference between the orders in the U.S. and Korea. In the U.S., they trade around $100 up to $5,000-$10,000 per trade. In Korea, these trade amounts are in $100,000 increments,” he said. He claims it reflects a huge interest from the upper class, namely children of family-owned "chaebol" conglomerates, investing their parents’ money. “People with regular day jobs can’t have this kind of volume. It’s too huge.” The fever continues -- even though the prices of Bitcoin and Ethereum in Korea regularly surpass those at other major exchanges. Kim believes the price difference could reach up to 60%.

So, is that it - while hot money EM flows dominate South Korea's FX and stock markets, decoupled from all comprehension of risk, are South Koreans dumping their hard-earned Won into Ethereum in hopes that after the bomb is dropped they'll still be able to cling to some of their wealth?

Judging by the reaction to The New York Times' article this morning that Trump's "fire and fury" comments were less policy and more bluster, we suspect that ETH is the trade of choice to track South Koreans' level of war anxiety...

 

Update: Mattis re-raised the rhetoric "NK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to end of its regime and destruction of its people".. and ETH surged...

It would appear that Ethereum is the World War III indicator.