South Korea Considers Less-Restrictive Regulations on Crypto

South Korea banned ICOs in September of last year. Now, government officials want a more supportive regulatory environment.

Lawmakers in South Korea are reconsidering the country’s regulations on cryptocurrency, according to a new report by local news outlet ZDNet Korea on Thursday, April 4.

The announcement that cryptocurrency regulations are up for revision came at the Deconomy conference in Seoul. There, several top government officials, including Min Byung-Doo, Chairman of the National Assembly, publicly stated that the government’s crypto policies must be re-evaluated to ensure that they are adequately supporting the growth of the industry.

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(From the top left corner) Min Byung-Doo, Chairman of the National Assembly, Jung Byung-Kuk, Democratic Party Member, Song Hee-Kyung, Free Republican Party Member, Won Hee-Ryong. Image from ZDNet.

Song Hee-kyung, co-president of the 4th Industry Forum of the National Assembly, said that up to this point, governmental bureaucracy had hindered industry growth: “the industry does not stand still while waiting for the regulatory sandbox authorization, so it is just like keeping it in the box.” (Translated quote.)

However, the officials also acknowledged that the government must act with caution in order to adequately protect citizens. “Public officials and bureaucrats have a responsibility and an obligation, and they have to be conservative and require institutional devices,” said Jung Byung-Kuk, Democratic Party Member.

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One member of the committee suggested that a regulatory sandbox is formed in one of the country’s sub-jurisdictions. “If we are concerned about regulation, we can operate a regulatory agency with the government in a limited area called Jeju Island,” said Free Republican Party Member, Won Hee-Ryong. “We will make a case study and try to create a foundation for the government to look at cryptocurrency.”

South Korea Has Come Down Hard on Crypto in the Past

Compared with many other countries, South Korea has taken a more restrictive stance on cryptocurrency regulations. This may be due in part to the fact that the mania that struck the cryptocurrency industry in late 2017 hit South Korea harder than any other place in the world.

The country banned ICOs in September of 2018, citing concerns that raising funds through the issuance of cryptocurrency was too similar to gambling.

The ban was reaffirmed in January after it was discovered that South Koreans were still participating in token sales.

Then, early last month, the South Korean Supreme Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) formed a task force to fight crime and fraud in the cryptocurrency industry.

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