South Korea Has Traded Way More XRP Than Ethereum This Year

In South Korea, XRP has persisted as the most-traded cryptocurrency outside of bitcoin over the year to date


leksiv/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


People who trade crypto in South Korea are far from bitcoin (BTC) or ether (ETH) maxis. In fact, based on the latest data from Kaiko, they might be XRP maxis.

Outside of BTC and ETH, collective volume for the top 20 most-traded cryptocurrencies listed on South Korea’s biggest crypto exchanges — Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone and Korbit — was $201.8 billion from the start of the year up to May 30, according to Kaiko data exclusively provided to Blockworks. 

Bitcoin and ether saw $36.7 billion and $8.9 billion in trade, respectively. 

South Korea has a storied history in trading cryptocurrencies outside of the top two by market cap. Those digital assets typically account for 70% to 80% of total South Korean trade volume, according to Kaiko senior analyst Dessislava Aubert. 

Aside from BTC, Ripple’s XRP is the most popular in South Korea by far.

  • XRP captured 12% of the non-BTC and ETH volume. 
  • $24.5 billion XRP traded over the first five months of the year.
  • XRP saw 66% of bitcoin’s volume and nearly three times ether’s.
South Korea has traded more than $3.8 billion in Serum so far this year, one of the ill-fated ‘Sam Coins’ wrecked by the FTX scandal

Dogecoin (DOGE) was second at nearly 4%, with payments-focused network Solar (SXP) trailing with 3.4%. (Solar was rebranded from after Binance acquired the firm in 2020). 

Ethereum Classic (ETC) and metaverse play The Sandbox (SAND) followed closely behind with about 3% each.

South Korea watches XRP-SEC case

To explain XRP’s dominance in the peninsula nation, Aubert said its “largely due to the surge in XRP trading volume in late March and early April, when volumes in the Korean markets hit a multi-month high.”

Also during that time, markets were anticipating that Ripple’s contentious legal battle with the SEC was coming to a head. In an Apr. 3 Kaiko newsletter, analysts claimed traders were betting on Ripple to triumph, which sent the token soaring and led the entire altcoin sector to its peak year to date. 

‘Altcoin’ has become a derogatory term for crypto which isn’t bitcoin or ether — South Korea isn’t phased

The case persists without any clear indication for when it might find a conclusion. Ripple Labs CEO Brad Garlinghouse in January said he anticipated the case would be resolved within the first half of the year.

As for whether the top traded cryptocurrencies are trading at a premium — as they’ve done over the years from time to time — Aubert told Blockworks that “XRP has traded at an average premium of 1.8% in Korean markets over the past year.” 

Bitcoin saw an average 1.4% premium across the same period.

Dogecoin is the worst performing of South Korea’s top five most-traded

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