Features of the Korean Crypto Market

INF CryptoLab
INF CryptoLab
Sep 19, 2023

Features of the Korean Crypto Market



  • Due to its historical background, South Korea has four aspects that make it different from other countries: 1) digital-friendly, 2) prevalence of micro-payments and micro-investments, 3) risk-takers, and 4) a distinctive crypto culture. As a result, South Korea, representing less than 1% of the world's population, has witnessed spot trading volumes on domestic exchanges surpass those of the leading global exchanges and currently ranks second only to China in terms of futures trading volume on Binance.

  • Web3.0 projects need a customized approach in South Korea.

  • Projects are required to publish Korean-language materials with a deep understanding of the project, utilize NAVER SEO (not GOOGLE), target the Telegram community (not Twitter), create YouTube videos on how to use the platform, and partner with large Korean projects.

  • Invest heavily in initial marketing to build awareness and distribute materials, then focus on selected communities.


Key chart. 4 Aspects of South Korea

Source: INF CryptoLab



I. Korea’s historical background (feat. ‘Hurry hurry’ work culture)

To comprehend the crypto community in South Korea, one must delve into the country's historical context. Despite the devastation of its infrastructure during the 1950 Korean War, South Korea achieved remarkable economic growth in just 50 years, profoundly shaping its national character.


After the devastating Korean War, South Korea emerged as one of the world's poorest nations, with a GDP per capita at merely one-sixth of the global average by 1960. In response, the government initiated a strategy of state-led economic growth, undertaking massive infrastructure projects like the Seoul-Busan Expressway, completed in a mere two and a half years. This era cultivated a 'hurry hurry' work culture and a relentless pursuit of excellence, driving South Korea's transition from 'steel, shipbuilding, and machinery' industries to 'automobile, semiconductor, and IT.'


In the 2000s, following substantial economic growth, South Korea reinvested in IT infrastructure, offering the world's fastest and most affordable internet connections, along with the highest smartphone penetration rates. This transformation shifted its focus to the 'game, entertainment, and drama' industry.


Figure 1. Comparison of GDP per capita between South Korea and the world

Source: World Bank, INF CryptoLab



These factors collectively position South Korea as an ideal environment for the development of a Web3.0 industry. Koreans are exceptionally tech-savvy, quick to adopt new digital platforms, and highly attuned to trends, making them invaluable MVP testers. Moreover, the widespread use of various Web2.0 platforms, such as internet banking, same-day delivery, real estate brokerage, and even tax payments, makes it feasible to assess whether a Web 3.0 platform genuinely creates value and serves practical purposes.


II. 4 Aspects of South Korea and its Crypto market

Despite having less than 1% of the world's population, South Korea's spot trading volume on local exchanges surpasses that of top-tier exchanges and ranks second in futures trading volume on Binance, just behind China. During the bull market periods like 2017 and 2021, peculiar cases of prolonged 'kimchi premiums' emerged, with Bitcoin prices on South Korean exchanges remaining 10-40% higher than on international exchanges. We will explore the reasons behind these phenomena through the four characteristics illustrated below.


Figure 2. 4 Aspects of South Korea

Source: INF CryptoLab



1. Digital-friendly

South Koreans are highly proficient with digital platforms. Thanks to Korea's ' hurry hurry ' culture, a multitude of services are readily accessible through digital platforms, and the country boasts some of the world's fastest internet speeds. Remarkably, Koreans spend an average of over 3 hours per day on digital applications, ranking as the highest globally. This digital-friendly environment positions Web3.0 platforms to introduce a variety of services to the Korean market and attract Korean users.


2. Prevalence of micro-payments and micro-investments

South Koreans are accustomed to spending small amounts on digital goods and investing in various assets. The country boasts a remarkable 93% smartphone penetration rate, and internet banking is ubiquitous, with many internet banks directly linked to cryptocurrency exchanges. Since the 2000s, the gaming industry's growth has reduced reluctance to purchase digital goods, often in the form of 'cash items.' Additionally, recent developments in digital banking services, including the sharing of personal financial data between financial institutions, have led to the launch of numerous services that utilize micropayments. These factors are expected to have a positive impact on the adoption of digital goods and subscription fees on Web3.0 platforms.


Moreover, South Korea's retail investors, known as 'ant investors,' have an intriguing investment culture. Communities of shareholders in companies like Ecopro(a secondary battery company) and Tesla, characterized by their strong community ties, are causing unease among institutional investors with large funds.



3. Risk-takers

South Koreans exhibit a high appetite for risk. The country has experienced rapid economic growth, but the intensifying competition within society has made it increasingly challenging to amass wealth solely through labor income. Real estate prices, particularly in a culture that highly values house ownership, have surged, leading to a profound sense of disenfranchisement among young people. Consequently, many young individuals have turned to investing in high-risk assets such as meme stocks and cryptocurrencies. Within the realm of cryptocurrencies, there exists a strong preference for altcoins, which offer greater risk along with the potential for higher returns.

Figure 3. Crypto holdings among Korean investors


Figure 4. Crypto holdings among US investors


Source: Upbit


Source: Coinbase


4. Distinctive Crypto Culture

South Korea's uniqueness extends to its language, spoken exclusively within its borders, and a distinctive culture defined by greetings, respect, and etiquette that diverges significantly from Western norms. This distinctiveness also extends to the world of cryptocurrency. In Korea, people use Naver, not Google, to search for crypto projects, and they prefer Telegram over Twitter for community discussions.


Another interesting thing about Koreans is their tendency to follow trends. Whether it's fashion, snacks, fruits, or even English-language kindergartens, if something's trending, they'll jump on board. This trend-following behavior is also evident in the Korean Crypto Telegram community, where content from popular channels gets shared and discussed for days.


To succeed in the Korean market, it's crucial to understand these unique aspects and tailor your approach accordingly.


III. Tapping into the Korean Crypto Market

South Korea represents a great market for blockchain foundations. However, to target the Korean market successfully, you need a customized strategy unique to Korea, distinct from common approaches.


To establish a community and gain users in the Korean market, foundations must:

  1. Create a comprehensive and in-depth content to facilitate a deep understanding of the project.

  2. Distribute 1-2 pages of A4 content on Naver blogs, covering detailed topics from the in-depth content. This enhances visibility when Koreans search for specific keywords (SEO).

  3. Produce 2-3 paragraph of short-form content through the Telegram community to reach a broader user base.


From the user's perspective:

  1. The short-form content in the Telegram community piques their interest in the project.

  2. Relevant content is displayed when they search for the project on NAVER.

  3. For those who are interested, can continue searching and read the research report published earlier that provides a deeper understanding and insight into the project.


Figure 5. Web3.0 marketing strategies for the Korean market

Source: INF CryptoLab



Considering the Korean community's characteristics, it is advised to allocate a significant portion of your marketing budget in the initial 1-2 months to enhance brand awareness and distribute essential materials. This early momentum and popularity are pivotal. Subsequently, strategically reduce the marketing budget and pivot towards targeted marketing within key communities. Throughout the marketing process, ensure a well-planned approach by utilizing In-depth reports, Naver, YouTube, Telegram, and more.


Figure 6. Example of an Initial Marketing Strategy Using Multiple Channels


Figure 7. Utilization of the Marketing Budget


Source: INF CryptoLab


Source: INF CryptoLab


Figure 8. Percentage of Crypto investors in Millennials and Gen Z


Figure 9. Top 3 Platforms for Korean Crypto Users


One-time information

KOL community


Platform use guide

Airdrop Participation

유투브 로고

Project Study

Portal Search (SEO)

네이버 블로그 , 카페 로고 무료 다운로드(AI,PNG) : 네이버 블로그

Source: 언론사 종합


Source: Thelostgamer

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