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Kimchi Premium


The Kimchi Premium refers to the difference in the price of cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, between South Korean exchanges and international or western crypto exchanges. This premium emerges due to the high demand for cryptocurrencies in South Korea combined with restrictions on their capital transactions. Essentially, the Kimchi Premium represents the extra price South Korean investors pay to purchase cryptocurrencies compared to prices outside their market.


The phonetic pronunciation of Kimchi Premium is: kɪm-tʃi ˈpriːmiəm

Key Takeaways


  1. Kimchi Premium refers to the higher price of cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, in the South Korean market compared to the global market average.
  2. It is mainly driven by high demand for cryptocurrencies in South Korea, capital controls, limited supply and regulatory frameworks that limit entry of foreign investors into the South Korean market.
  3. Kimchi Premium may result in arbitrage opportunities, but taking advantage of such opportunities can be difficult due to regulations, tax treatments and potential risks associated with cryptocurrency market volatility.


The term “Kimchi Premium” is important in the realm of business and finance as it refers to the notable price difference between cryptocurrencies, primarily Bitcoin, on South Korean exchanges compared to global market averages. This premium emerges due to South Korea’s stringent regulations on capital movements, high demand for cryptocurrencies, and limited options for purchasing digital assets within the country. As a phenomenon, the Kimchi Premium can serve as an indicator of market sentiment, speculation, and potential arbitrage opportunities in the cryptocurrency space, thus granting traders valuable insights into potential financial strategies. Moreover, understanding the Kimchi Premium is vital for accurately assessing and navigating the complexities of global crypto markets, particularly for investors interested in South Korean markets.


The Kimchi Premium refers to a price difference of cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, that arises in South Korean markets in comparison to international markets. The purpose of this premium is not intentional, but rather a consequence of market dynamics specific to South Korea. This premium is closely observed as an indicator of underlying factors affecting the cryptocurrency market in the region, such as capital controls, increased demand, or supply constraints. The observation of the Kimchi Premium may help investors and traders gauge the viability of potential arbitrage opportunities, as well as signal market sentiment in South Korea.

The emergence of the Kimchi Premium results from several factors, such as strict capital controls, limited options for investing abroad, and a high level of interest in cryptocurrencies among the South Korean population. With more investors seeking to diversify their holdings, the demand for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin increases, leading to higher prices compared to global markets. Additionally, supply constraints due to regulatory measures can further drive up the price, creating the Kimchi Premium. This phenomenon holds relevance for understanding the unique circumstances of the South Korean cryptocurrency market, and may guide strategic decisions for businesses and individual traders alike.


Kimchi Premium refers to the price difference between cryptocurrencies (mainly Bitcoin) traded on South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges and the global average price. This premium emerges because of South Korea’s limited access to foreign exchanges and high demand for cryptocurrencies, leading to higher prices for the asset. Here are three real-world examples that illustrate the concept of Kimchi Premium:

1. April 2021: Bitcoin’s Kimchi Premium reached a historical high when the price of one Bitcoin on South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Upbit was approximately $66,000, while the average global price was about $58,000. This represented a roughly 14% premium on the price of Bitcoin for South Korean traders.

2. January 2018: During the cryptocurrency bull run in 2018, the Kimchi Premium reached nearly 50% at its peak. At that time, Bitcoin was trading at around $25,000 on South Korean exchanges, while its international price was around $17,000. This led to an increased demand for cryptocurrencies in the South Korean market, as traders tried to profit from the arbitrage opportunity.

3. Ripple (XRP) in 2017-2018: Ripple’s XRP cryptocurrency experienced a significant Kimchi Premium during the 2017-2018 cryptocurrency craze. At one point, XRP’s price on South Korean exchanges reached a peak of around $3.64, while its global average price was only about $2.51. This premium was driven by high demand among South Korean investors and limited access to international markets.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Kimchi Premium?

The Kimchi Premium is a phenomenon observed in South Korea where the price of cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, is higher on local exchanges compared to international exchanges. This premium is typically attributed to high demand, limited supply, and capital controls in the country.

Why is it called the Kimchi Premium?

The term “kimchi” is derived from the famous Korean side dish, symbolizing the phenomenon’s exclusive occurrence in South Korea. The “premium” signifies the higher prices that South Korean investors pay for cryptocurrencies compared to international market prices.

What factors contribute to the Kimchi Premium?

Several factors contribute to this premium, including high local demand for cryptocurrencies, stringent capital controls that restrict overseas investments, a lack of domestic sources for cryptocurrencies, and challenges in arbitrage trading between international and South Korean exchanges.

How is the Kimchi Premium calculated?

The Kimchi Premium is calculated as the percentage difference between the price of a cryptocurrency on a South Korean exchange versus its price on an international exchange. For example, if Bitcoin is priced at $40,000 on a South Korean exchange and $38,000 on an international exchange, the Kimchi Premium would be 5.26% (($40,000 – $38,000) / $38,000 x 100).

Can investors take advantage of the Kimchi Premium through arbitrage?

In theory, investors could take advantage of the price disparity by purchasing cryptocurrencies on international exchanges and selling them on South Korean exchanges. However, regulatory restrictions, trading fees, taxes, and other barriers make arbitrage trading challenging and, in some cases, unprofitable.

Is Kimchi Premium unique to South Korea?

While the term “Kimchi Premium” is specific to South Korea, similar price disparities can be observed in other countries with strict capital controls and high demand for cryptocurrencies. However, the scale and persistence of the premium in South Korea make it particularly noteworthy.

How does the Kimchi Premium impact the global cryptocurrency market?

The Kimchi Premium can influence the overall market by creating additional demand and increasing the average global prices for cryptocurrencies. Additionally, its presence in a major market like South Korea can result in increased volatility and impact investor sentiment across the sector.

Related Finance Terms

  • Arbitrage trading
  • Cryptocurrency markets
  • Market inefficiencies
  • South Korean Won (KRW)
  • Regulatory restrictions

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