Cryptocurrencies tumble after South Korea hack

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Bitcoin has dropped 11% since 5pm NY time on Friday and was trading at $6,784.04 as of 10.21am in Hong Kong on Monday, bringing its year-to-date loss to 53%.

A South Korean cryptocurrency exchange says hackers have stolen about one-third of the coins traded on its market. The cryptocoin's value has reached a two-month low, losing $500 in just an hour, The Guardian reported. It did not quantify its value, but in an unsourced report local news outlet Yonhap news estimated that about 40 billion won ($37.28 million) worth of virtual coins were stolen. Two-thirds of remaining 30 percent of token compromised have been frozen or recalled through consultation with developers like Pundi X and communication with exchanges like IDEX, the operator said.

A cryptocurrency exchange hack in South Korea jolted holders of digital assets, fueling a $46 billion rout and extending this year's Bitcoin slump to more than 50%.

Japan in February carried out raids on a number of exchanges following the Coinbase hack, which exceeded the US$480 million in virtually currency stolen in 2014 from another Japanese exchange, MtGox.

On the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp, bitcoin BTC=BTSP was last trading at $6,790.88, down a sharp 10.8 percent from Friday, having fallen roughly 65 percent from its all-time peak hit around mid-December 2017.

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South Korea is one of the biggest markets for trading in digital currencies but the boom in their popularity has forced the government to tighten regulations, following similar moves in other countries.

Coinrail claims 70 percent of its cryptocurrency reserves are safe and have been transferred to cold wallets for security reasons; their transactions and withdrawals will resume as usual once the exchange service is stabilized.

The Korean National Police Agency didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

The price plunges were also linked to a report on Friday from the Wall Street Journal (paywall) that U.S. regulators are investigating four major crypto exchanges, including Coinbase and Bitstamp, for price manipulation.

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