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Bithumb Plans to be the First Crypto Exchange Listed on the Korean Stock Market

Byline: Hannah Parker

Photo by: Sava Bobov on Unsplash

Seoul, South Korea, February 03, 2024, Bithumb, a crypto exchange, plans to become the first digital asset company to go public on the South Korean market. According to the report, Bithumb is getting ready for an initial public offering.


On November 12 2023, insights from a local news outlet, Edaily, published that Bithumb was obtaining an initial public offering (IPO) on the Kosdaq, South Korea’s version of the United States Nasdaq. The listing date is expected to be set for sometime in the second half of 2023.


Bithumb was established in 2014 and offers 191 coins and 287 trading pairs. According to Edaily, Bithumb declined to confirm whether the IPO was going ahead. Still, they admitted that they recently selected an underwriter, a company that is tasked with guaranteeing the financial security for another typically before a firm goes public. The report also revealed that Bithumb chose Samsung Securities as its potential IPO underwriter.

According to the sources familiar with the matter, Bithumb’s former chairman, Lee Jong-hoon, has returned to Bithumb as its registered director. CEO Lee Sang-jun was excluded from a place on the board of directors due to an ongoing investigation into alleged bribery. According to the sources, the move by Bithumb to go public resulted from not wanting to give up further market share to Upbit, one of the largest crypto exchanges in South Korea.

Bithumb’s Background

On December 30 2022, experts at Bitcoin Apex official published that the Vice President of Vidente, the biggest shareholder of South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb, Park Mo, was found dead following allegations of embezzlement and stock price manipulation. Before his death, he was named as a leading suspect in an investigation launched by South Korean prosecutors. The Financial Division of the Seoul Southern District Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation in October 2021, which led to the seising of Bithumb-affiliated companies such as Evident, Inbiogen and Bucket Studio. It is alleged that Park Mo may have taken his life due to the nature of the criminal allegations that were brought against him.


In February 2023, one of Bithumb’s largest shareholders and suspected actual owner, Kang Jong-hyun, was arrested on embezzlement charges following a lengthy police investigation into his allegedly illicit behaviour. The SSDC issued an arrest warrant for Kang on January 25 2023, with multiple charges such as dereliction of duty, market manipulation and fraudulent transactions. Kang Jong-hyun is the elder brother to the head of Bithumb affiliate Inbiogen, Kang Ji-Yeon. The report revealed that the prosecutors confirmed that the brothers were working together to embezzle corporate funds and exploit the stock prices of Inbiogen and the video production firm through the issuance of convertible bonds. On the Bucket Studio website, CEO Kang Ji-yeon apologised to shareholders, emphasised that the claims against his brother were unconfirmed, and revealed his intention to work with the authorities to assist with the investigation.

Bithumb’s Cryptocurrency Timeline

According to reports, Bithumb is currently the second-largest crypto exchange in South Korea by daily trading volume, a distant second to Upbit. In July 2023, Upbit’s monthly trading volumes surpassed that of OKX and Coinbase for the first time regarding spot trading volume. According to the data published on August 3 2023, Upbit’s spot trading volume in July rose by 42.3% to $29.8 billion.


According to the report, the shift in the market placed Upbit after Binance as the second-largest exchange by trading volume. Binance has been holding on to its market share as the largest platform for spot trading in crypto, with volumes of $208 billion. Bithumb and Upbit became the subject of unwanted attention in May 2023 when South Korean authorities raided Bithumb and Upbit due to investigations surrounding transaction records and other materials. According to the report, lawmaker Kim Nam-kuk is said to conduct his digital asset wallets on Bithumb and Upbit. According to reports, the firm holds the largest share in Vidente, the biggest Bithumb shareholder with a 34.2% stake.


On May 14 2023, Kim resigned from his political party immediately after the raid by the authorities. According to allegations, Kim’s departure was tied to several allegations against him due to allegedly dubious crypto dealings while working on digital asset legislation in May and November of 2022. Kim posted on Facebook and mentioned that “he did not want to weigh down his fellow party members with the argument surrounding his crypto dealings”. Kim added, “The accusative media reports had false facts and that he would reveal the truth”. On May 8 2022, the Korea Times published that Kim cashed over $4 million in crypto before the Financial Action Task Force imposed the travel rule.


Despite all the challenges Bithumb has been facing, the firm is determined to be the first crypto exchange listed on South Korea’s crypto market. This move by Bithumb shows that the firm has decided to move within the time with its 24-hour trading volume.