Major Korean Crypto Exchange: $31 Million Vanishes


Bithumb, South Korea’s largest crypto exchange announced on its website that between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, Korean time, 35 billion won (about 31.5 million USD) worth of cryptocurrencies vanished.

Just a few hours later, the announcement was taken down, along with promises of compensation. At press time, it appears Twitter announcements of the heist remain published without explanation.

Korean Bithumb Loses $31.5 Million Less Than 2 Weeks After Coinrail Attack

Bithumb is the second Korean exchange targeted by cyber thieves in less than two weeks. Earlier this month, Coinrail, South Korea’s seventh-largest cryptocurrency exchange, announced that it was hacked, losing between $37.2 and $40 million in altcoins, according to local media.

Major Korean Crypto Exchange: $31 Million Vanishes

Around 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Bithumb informed the public in a Tweet that it was temporarily suspending deposits and changing its wallet system due to increasing safety issues. Bithumb apologized for the incident, asking its customers “not to deposit any funds into Bithumb wallet addresses.” This second attack in less than a month highlights the vulnerabilities faced by cryptocurrency exchanges.

“The loss will be compensated by Bithumb’s own reservoir,” the exchange told Yonhap News and also stated that “all of clients assets in safe cold wallet,” which operates on platforms not directly connected to the internet.

Markets Momentarily Rocked

In South Korea, the price of bitcoin fell 3.88 percent to 7.23 million won as of 11:00 a.m., according to another cryptocurrency exchange, Btrade, Yonhap News reported. Ripple and Ethereum reportedly declined 3.16 percent and 4.22 percent.

Major Korean Crypto Exchange: $31 Million Vanishes

Bithumb is one of the largest exchanges in Asia, with a daily trading volume of over $330 million, according to Coinmarketcap. A Bithumb spokesman has confirmed over the phone to that it does not know which virtual currencies exactly were stolen at this point, and did not mention whether it was indeed a hack. Bithumb trades more than 37 different cryptocurrencies, according to its homepage.

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Nathalie Stucky is a Tokyo-based Swiss journalist. Prior to joining the news department, she was a freelance journalist and contributor at The Daily Beast and Japan Subculture Research Center. Nathalie is also the author and co-author of the digital book Pay the Devil in Bitcoin, published at Amazon Kindle Japan in 2017.

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