A sudden government announcement on Thursday shook up the world's third biggest market for cryptocurrencies In response to extreme volatility and a very uncertain future, Seoul's latest measures are designed to curb speculation on Bitcoin

Lee Ji-won reports After a meeting of related ministries Thursday, the Korean government announced additional measures to regulate speculation in cryptocurrency

(Korean) "Virtual currencies are not legal tender And despite numerous warnings over the sudden ups and downs in price, fraud and hacking, the prices of most virtual currencies are much higher on Korean exchanges than in other countries,

and speculation is getting out of control That's why the government has decided that we can no longer sit and watch" One of the major changes in the measures is a requirement for investors to use only verified bank accounts and they'll have to use the same bank that the exchange uses

It plans to require real-name transactions in cryptocurrency trading starting next month, banning the use of anonymous virtual accounts This is to boost transparency

and ban speculative demand from teenagers and foreigners The issuance of virtual accounts is banned effective immediately and work will be done to switch over the existing users of virtual accounts Another change will be a crackdown and tougher punishments for cryptocurrency-related crimes

The government will set out a plan for its crackdown on cryptocurrency crimes for next year, and crimes such as price manipulation will be treated with the maximum penalty allowable by the courts Banks will also have a greater obligation to prevent money laundering on cryptocurrency exchanges

And to cool down speculation, the Korea Communications Commission will regulate indiscriminate online advertisements for cryptocurrency The Ministry of Justice for the first time officially proposed enacting special laws to shutdown the crypto exchanges,

and the government said it will, for now, leave all options open, while keeping a close eye on the speculation and response measures to crime Meanwhile, Seoul's crypto exchanges saw prices fall off a cliff, as much as 16-percent,

after the announcement, causing worry over the government's intervention in the market Lee Ji-won, Arirang News