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South Korean Court Rules Bitcoin Has Economic Value

South Korean Court Rules Bitcoin Has Economic Value

A South Korean court has ruled that bitcoin has an economic value for the first time. This overturned an earlier court ruling which did not recognize the digital currency. The case involves the confiscation of 191 bitcoins.

Also read: Japan’s DMM Bitcoin Exchange Opens for Business With 7 Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin’s Status Re-Examined

The Suwon District Court in South Korea has, for the first time, recognized that bitcoin has an economic value and can be confiscated, local media reported on Tuesday.

South Korean Court Rules Bitcoin Has Economic ValueThe ruling concerns the case involving Ahn who was arrested in May of last year and convicted of operating an illegal pornography site with approximately 1.2 million members. Ahn pocketed 1.9 billion won (~USD$1.78 million) in membership fees. While arresting him, the Southern Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency confiscated his 216 bitcoins from an online wallet which received some fees from the site.

In September of last year, the court did not recognize bitcoin and ruled that it could not be confiscated, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported. An official from the court explained that they did not judge bitcoin to have any economic value because it is “in the form of electronic files without physical entities, unlike cash.”

Landmark Court Ruling on Bitcoin

South Korean Court Rules Bitcoin Has Economic ValueFollowing the first ruling, the prosecutor appealed in December to the court for the ability to confiscate bitcoins. The second hearing was held recently.

In the second hearing, the court found that “The crime profit concealment law does not restrict the criminal income to the goods but the cash, the deposit, the stock, and other property with economic value,” Chosun reported and further quoted the court explaining:

Bitcoin can be changed into money through an exchange. It can be used as a means of payment through merchants, so it should be regarded as having economic value.

The court subsequently ruled that “Among the 216 bitcoins confiscated by the prosecution, Ahn’s 191 bitcoins” were traced to email addresses of the pornography site members, so they are “recognized as criminal proceeds from the operation of the site.”

Since Ahn’s arrest in April, the price of bitcoin has risen significantly. The 191 bitcoins are worth approximately 2.13 billion won (~$2 million) at the time of this writing based on bitcoin’s price on Bithumb, one of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges.

South Korean Court Rules Bitcoin Has Economic Value

Maekyung quoted a lawyer explaining:

The recognition of virtual currency as an object of forfeiture means that it will be transferred to the national treasury and used as a national budget.

What do you think of the new court’s ruling? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Bithumb.


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Tags in this story
Arrested, Asset, Bitcoin, Bitcoin exchange, Bithumb, confiscated, Court, Cryptocurrency, Digital Currency, district court, economic value, korea, korean, N-Featured, pornography, ruling, South Korea, suwon, Virtual Currency, Wallet, website
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Kevin Helms

A student of Austrian Economics, Kevin found Bitcoin in 2011 and has been an evangelist ever since. His interests lie in Bitcoin security, open-source systems, network effects and the intersection between economics and cryptography.