With TradingView reporting a $57,000 BTC price for U.S.-based exchange Coinbase and a $66,000 for South Korea’s Bithumb at the time of this writing, the Kimchi premium, or difference between the bitcoin price on Western exchanges and South Korean exchanges, has reached 15 percent.
With a name derived from the popular South Korean dish, the Kimchi premium was first identified in 2016, according to a research report from the University of Calgary. Though the current 15 percent premium is notable, the spread has been marked as high as 54.48 percent in January 2018, per the report.
Although the price spread looks lucrative for foreign traders, local regulations limit foreigners from trading cryptocurrency through a South Korean exchange. Also, the regulations limit Korean traders from exploiting the arbitrage opportunities on international exchanges.
“Institutional frictions prevent arbitrageurs from keeping bitcoin prices in Korea aligned with the rest of the world,” the University of Calgary researchers explained. “Divergence in bitcoin prices are not only a Korean phenomenon… international differences in bitcoin prices can be high and persist over long periods of time.”
That being said, this premium reveals a bullish sentiment for bitcoin in the South Korean cryptocurrency market. Judging by the size of the South Korean cryptocurrency market, this high premium for bitcoin may have an effect on global prices going forward.