South Korea has opened its doors to crypto exchanges. This has led to crypto trading platforms indicating interest in capturing that market. To identify the best crypto exchanges available to Koreans, we tested multiple platforms using a mix of factors, including:
- Value for money
- Support for Korean Won deposits and withdrawals
- Licensed to operate in Korea
- Security features
The Financial Services Commission regulates cryptocurrencies in South Korea, assisted by the Bank of Korea where necessary.
Several crypto exchanges operate in Korea. We have screened dozens of these platforms to create this list of the top 5 crypto exchanges in Korea.
- MEXC – Best Crypto Overall Exchange in Korea
- Bithumb – Best Korean-based Crypto Exchange for Beginners
- Bybit – Best Crypto Exchange for Derivatives Trading
- Upbit – Best Korean-based Crypto Exchange
- OKX – Best Multi-purpose Crypto Exchange in Korea
MEXC is a popular crypto exchange among Korean residents. With a trading volume of over $ 3 billion, MEXC continues to gather interest from traders.
In South Korea, this crypto exchange is the best for trading derivatives with 200x leverage and low market cap cryptocurrencies. Over 1700 cryptos like AIDOGE, POGAI, and others are available on MEXC.
The trading fees on this centralized exchange are the cheapest. Koreans can trade cryptocurrencies for 0% fees on spot. Futures trading has a 0% maker fee and a 0.01% taker fee, which means that MEXC has the lowest trading fees in the crypto space.
MEXC is renowned for its easy access to low-cap coins. While other crypto exchanges tend to limit the cryptocurrencies they list, MEXC is flexible in its listing requirements. This allows Korean users to buy these low-cap coins without going the more expensive decentralized route.
Koreans can only deposit or withdraw Korean Won on MEXC through its P2P portal. The crypto exchange does not support any KRW deposit or withdrawal via any other means. However, you can buy crypto on the exchange using different payment options including card, and third-party entities like Simplex.
If you want to learn more about the platform, you can read our full MEXC review.
Supported Cryptos: 1700+
Futures Contracts: 350+ F
Max. Leverage: 200x
Spot Trading Fees: 0%
Futures Trading Fees: 0% maker / 0.01% taker
Deposits & Withdrawals: Only supports KRW deposit/withdrawal through P2P.
Licensed & Regulated: Regulatory license from Switzerland, Estonia, US, and Canada.
Bithumb is a Korean-based crypto exchange. Bithum has over 8 million registered users. A trading volume of over $175m says a lot about the popularity of this crypto exchange. Bithumb is best known for its intuitive website and low fees.
Only spot trading is available on Bithumb. The crypto exchange supports over 280+ trading pairs. Trading fees on Bithumb vary between 0.04% – 0.25% (both maker and taker) for KRW pairs. BTC trading pairs are free.
Korean users can borrow cryptos on Bithumb to margin trade. But this is a service provided by a third-party entity, and Korean Won (KRW) is the only collateral allowed.
Additionally, Bot trading is supported on the crypto exchange. Bithumb lets users add trading bot APIs so their trading activities are automated.
Staking on Bithumb is only available to Bithumb Plus users. Through this service, you can stake supported cryptocurrencies such as Matic, QTUM, ADA, SOL, CRO, and a few others to receive an APY of up to 5%.
Bithumb supports KRW deposits and withdrawals through KRW points. The KRW points are on sale on the exchange’s escrow service and these can be redeemed to KRW. Bithumb also supports crypto deposits and withdrawals.
If you want to learn more about the platform, you can read our full Bithumb review.
Supported Cryptos: Over 250+ cryptocurrencies
Futures Contracts: None
Max. Leverage: No
Spot Trading Fees: 0.04% – 0.25% KRW markets
Futures Trading Fees: Not available
Deposits & Withdrawals: Korean Won (KRW) deposits and withdrawals are supported via KRW points. Crypto deposits and withdrawals are supported.
Licensed & Regulated: Regulatory license from South Korea.
Another top crypto exchange available to Korean users is Bybit. With 10 million plus users, and a trading volume of over $7 billion, Bybit has quite the clout in the crypto space.
As far as derivatives trading is concerned, few crypto exchanges are a match for Bybit.
Bybit is great for spot trading with 400 cryptos and futures trading with over 300 perpetual contracts. Max leverage varies from 25x for altcoins and 100x for BTC and ETH derivatives.
For beginners, demo trading on Bybit makes it possible to trade without any financial involvement.
Margin trading is also available on Bybit to Korean users. You can trade futures or spots using funds borrowed with your crypto collateral.
On Bybit, Korean Won deposits and withdrawals are not supported. Also, you can’t buy crypto with KRW on the exchange using the one-click buy option so you have to buy crypto on another exchange first and then send the cryptos to Bybit.
If you want to learn more about the platform, you can read our full Bybit review.
Supported Assets: Over 400+ Cryptocurrencies
Futures Contracts: 300+
Spot Fees: 0.1% maker / 0.1% taker
Futures Fees: 0.02% maker / 0.055% taker
Deposits & Withdrawals: Supports crypto deposits and withdrawals only.
Licensed & Regulated: MVP license, Regulated by Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA)
With over 8.9 million users, Upbit is considered the largest Korean-based crypto exchange. It has a trading volume of over $2 billion, which is significant for a South Korean-focused crypto platform. Upbit is popular among Korean users for its seamless support for KRW deposit and withdrawal and advanced trading tools.
On Upbit, Korean users have access to over 190 cryptocurrencies including BTC, XRP, HIFI, FLOW, and more.
The trading fee on Upbit is about 0.05%. This includes Value Added Tax (VAT).
You can stake a select few cryptocurrencies on Upbit for block rewards. The Korean-based exchange supports the staking of ETH, SOL, ADA, and ATOM. The reward rate varies between 4.1% to 22% depending on the cryptocurrency.
Upbit supports KRW deposits and withdrawals through bank transfers. Korean users can easily buy cryptocurrencies using KRW on the exchange without converting to USDT or similar. Deposits are free on Upbit, but withdrawal fees vary based on the asset.
If you want to learn more about the platform, you can read our full Upbit review.
Supported Cryptos: Over 190+ cryptocurrencies
Futures Contracts: No
Max. Leverage: No
Spot Trading Fees: 0.05% (includes VAT)
Futures Trading Fees: No
Deposits & Withdrawals: KRW deposits and withdrawals via Bank Transfer. Supports crypto deposit and withdrawal.
Licensed & Regulated: Regulatory license from South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand.
OKX is a top tier derivatives crypto exchange accessible to Korean users. More than 20 million people use OKX for crypto trading or investing. The crypto platform has a daily trading volume of over $5.6 billion. OKX is popular among Korean users for its crypto Earn products, including Simple Earn, On-chain Earn, and other structured products.
OKX supports over 350 cryptocurrencies. On the crypto exchange, you can trade crypto on spot or perpetual contracts. OKX even supports options and NFT trading. You can trade spots on OKX for a fee of 0.08% maker fee and 0.1% taker fee. Perpetual contract trading fees are 0.02% and 0.05% for maker and taker respectively. This makes OKX one of the most affordable crypto exchanges in Korea.
Institutions and big traders can trade spots, futures, OTC, and options on OKX through its deep liquid marketplace.
OKX doesn’t support deposit or withdrawal of Korean Won (KRW). You can’t buy crypto on the exchange with KRW through any payment method. However, you can deposit or withdraw cryptocurrencies on the exchange. Crypto deposits to OKX are free, but withdrawal fees depend on the specific crypto.
If you want to learn more about the platform, you can read our full OKX review.
Supported Cryptos: Over 350+ cryptocurrencies
Futures Contracts: 100+ Futures contracts
Max. Leverage: 125x
Spot Trading Fees: 0.08% maker / 0.1% taker
Futures Trading Fees: 0.02% maker / 0.05% taker
Deposits & Withdrawals: Supports crypto deposits and withdrawals.
Licensed & Regulated: MVP license from Dubail. DASP license from France, and a VASP license from Hong Kong.
Yes, crypto is legal in Korea. The Bank of Korea and the Financial Services Commission (FSC) regulate crypto-related activities in Korea. While the Bank of Korea can investigate crypto service vendors and issuers, the FSC is in charge of regulating the digital assets sector in the Asian country.
Cryptocurrency activities are governed by the Virtual Asset User Protection Act. The Korean National Assembly passed the bill into law on June 30, 2023.
A 20% capital gain tax applies to crypto earnings over 2.5 million KRW in a year. Further capital gain tax on all crypto earnings will be applied from 2025. You should contact your local tax advisor to help you stay in compliance with Korean tax laws.
You can buy cryptocurrencies in Korea. To do that, adhere to the steps below.
Select the Right Crypto Exchange: To buy crypto in Korea using KRW, you have to select the right exchange. Most top exchanges don’t support KRW deposits or purchases, so you have to pick a crypto exchange that does. The two Korean-based crypto exchanges, Bithumb and Upbit, support KRW deposits, so those are the best places to start.
Sign up for an Account: Next, you have to sign up for an account. Most top exchanges require you to complete a KYC verification to meet the stipulations of the AML laws. Depending on the crypto exchange, the verification process can be quick or slow, but it’s usually easy. You will need an identification document such as a valid ID card, passport, or driver’s license for this process.
Buying Cryptocurrencies: Completing the verification process means you’re ready to buy some cryptos. If you’re using a Korean-based crypto exchange like Bithumb or Upbit, deposit your KRW and trade for any of your preferred cryptocurrencies. You can also use MEXC to buy crypto using KRW supported payment channels like Mercuryo or through its P2P platform.
Protecting your cryptos: Following the events of FTX, you should never keep your cryptocurrencies on centralized exchanges. You are better served storing your cryptos on cold wallets like Safepal and Ledger Nano X.
Wrapping up, buying, and selling cryptos is legal in Korea. While Korea-based crypto exchanges like Bithumb and Upbit support KRW for crypto transactions, others like OKX and Bybit are limited to crypto for crypto transactions.
MEXC stands out as the overall best crypto exchange in Korea. The platform is known for its easy access to low cap coins trading, cheapest fees (0.00% spot trading fees), and support for crypto purchases using KRW.
Regardless of the crypto trading platform you settle for, keep your assets safe. Apply security measures like 2FA to keep your crypto secure.