Ruling South Korean Party Makes Pro-Crypto Policy U-Turn
The head of the ruling Democratic Party in South Korea has promised to make a dramatic U-turn on crypto policy, claiming that “the time has come” for the government to stop regulating crypto and start “fostering” the industry.
As previously reported, the party is hoping to cling to power in next year’s general elections, and has been made painfully aware of the unpopularity of the current President Moon Jae-in regime’s hardline stance on regulation. The party’s nominee for the presidency, which will be contested on March 8, has already hinted he would consider giving tokens away to all South Korean citizens.
Yonhap quoted Song Young-gil, the Democratic Party’s chairman, as stating that the government “needs to establish a ‘blockchain department” in Busan, the nation’s second city and the home of the nation’s only blockchain regulation-free zone. He claimed that the move would help the country “prepare[d]” to become more competitive in the “digital currency” stakes.
In a remarkable volte-face from the party, Song spoke of the need to recognize that “cryptoassets” and “blockchain technology” are “two sides of the same coin.” Moon’s ministers and chief regulators have previously insisted that it was preferable to pursue private blockchain advances, rather than work with already-popular, decentralized protocols – a stance that even drew criticism from Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin when he visited Seoul in 2019.
Speaking at an event in Busan, Song was almost hostile about Moon’s ministers’ policies – and their handling of Busan’s status as a regulatory-free zone. He said:
“Busan was designated as a blockchain regulatory free zone in 2019, but the [intended] results have not been achieved because the government has viewed virtual asset exchanges in a negative light and suppressed virtual assets while nurturing blockchain technology.”
Busan had hoped to pull off feats such as a limited reversal of the blanket initial coin offering (ICO) ban, but was limited to private blockchain-centered solutions by the central government.
Meanwhile, the central Bank of Korea (BOK) is set to unveil its digital won plans in full next year, after the completion of a six-month-long pilot.
Money Today quoted the BOK Deputy Governor Bae Jun-seok as stating:
“We are currently conducting a [digital KRW] pilot to test the technical implementation potential of its basic functions, such as online and offline payment, with the goal of completing this process in June next year.”