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South Korean Exchanges Block Russian IP Addresses

The restrictions seem to apply broadly, not just to a list of sanctioned individuals.

South Korean Exchanges Block Russian IP Addresses
Seoul, South Korea; Shutterstock photo by Sayan Uranan

Key Takeaways

  • Several South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges have imposed bans on Russian users, according to The Korea Times.
  • Upbit, Coinone, Bithumb, Korbit, and Gopax have taken those measures, broadly citing sanctions as their motivation.
  • More mainstream crypto exchanges such as Coinbase, Kraken, and Binance have said they will not apply blanket bans.

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Several South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges have imposed bans on Russia-based users, according to recent local reports.

South Korean Exchanges Restrict Accounts

The Korea Times first reported on Mar. 3 that Upbit, Coinone, Bithumb, Korbit, and Gopax had all imposed bans on Russia-based accounts.

Though some of the above companies cited sanctions, it appears that those policies reach far beyond sanctioned individuals. The Korea Times said that the above exchanges have “blocked Russian IP addresses” and can prevent users from withdrawing funds “if the transactions are found to be related to Russia.”

Upbit said in statements elsewhere that it had “blocked subscriptions from users in countries at high risk of money laundering.” It did not directly reference the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine but instead cited Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidelines.

Gopax, a minor exchange, reportedly froze 20 accounts belonging to Russian customers. It cited Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions against Russia as justification for those bans.

Animoca Brands, a South Korean blockchain gaming company also chose to deny service to Russian users this week. The company is best known for its online game The Sandbox.

Sanctions Against Russia Continue

Sanctions are continually being imposed against Russian during its invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. initially targeted two Russian banks along with oligarchs with sanctions on Feb. 22. Sanctions against Russia’s central bank were then imposed on Feb. 28. Today, the U.S. imposed sanctions on eight more individuals.

It is primarily banks and other financial services that must follow those sanctions. Mainstream crypto exchanges such as Binance, Kraken, and Coinbase have complied with sanctions while also refusing to impose a blanket ban on Russian customers.

Russian banks have also been banned from the SWIFT banking network, restricting transactions with the U.S. and EU.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and other cryptocurrencies.

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