South Korea, a country of around 50 million residents with a GDP of $2 trillion, seems to have taken a disproportionate interest in ethereum with their main exchange, Bithub, handling more volume than Coinbase’s GDAX.
Korean exchanges are handling around $30 million in eth/fiat volumes, twice as much as both GDAX and Kraken combined, leading many to wonder why they have shown so much interest.
The answer is probably due to a combination of factors. The main reason may be because South Korea is big in gaming with a number of reports suggesting that Sony representatives have mentioned ethereum at some of the biggest gaming conferences.
Because of its smart contracts capabilities, ethereum’s platform may be attractive for fantasy games where a football team or a warring group is built in a multiplayer setting.
Smart contracts can be used to lay out the rules of the game while the inbuilt currency, eth, can allow the purchasing of in-game assets or for distribution of tournament prizes.
Since it is all on a public blockchain, it is difficult to cheat while making the whole process transparent, therefore anyone can be confident there was fair play throughout the game.
Another reason may be because South Korea is very advanced technologically, with their robotics somewhat superior. Ethereum’s smart contracts promise to give robots and other machines the ability to autonomously hold, transfer and receive value, thus allowing them to act.
As such, it may be the case that South Koreans see the opportunities more clearly while having greater awareness of cutting edge technologies as they pertain to artificial intelligence and robotics related fields.
The above two are probably the main reasons, but a third related factor may be the current political difficulties the country is facing. Following some stupendous revelations that their government was being run by an esoteric cabal, a caretaker government has taken over.
In addition, the increased tensions regarding North Korea may have led some to diversify with their preferred choice of digital currency seemingly being eth rather than bitcoin probably because of ethereum’s smart contract capabilities which may make it useful in games settings and for the internet of things.