Cryptocurrency Was Their Way Out of South Korea’s Lowest Rungs. They’re Still Trying.

SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Ki-won is keeping a secret from his parents.

It isn’t just that he has bought and sold an immense number of digital coins. Mr. Kim, who is 27 and lives with his parents, once made so much money trading cryptocurrencies that he was spending $1,000 a month on whatever he wanted. He quit his job. He borrowed to buy more. He planned to buy a house.

Today he sits slumped over, at times hiding his eyes behind his hair. Which brings us back to Mr. Kim’s secret: He has lost a lot of money, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars.

“I don’t think it’s fair that people call it gambling,” he said of his cryptocurrency obsession. “But there are elements of truth here and there.”

A generation of young South Koreans like Mr. Kim, looking for a way out of their dead-end prospects, has helped turn the country into a capital of the wild world of cryptocurrencies. Now that the market has How Bitcoin Could Help Iran Undermine U.S. SanctionsJan. 29, 2019

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