South Korean National Policy Pushes to Legalize ICOs

South Korean National Policy Pushes to Legalize ICOs

The Committee Chairman of South Korea’s National Policy Committee has spoken before the National Assembly and called for the legalization of initial coin offerings (ICOs).

ICO contention

Min Byung-Doo, also a member of the ruling Democratic party, spoke at a session of the National Assembly on 2 October, where the national administration is subject to questioning from lawmakers.

According to a local media outlet, Byung-Doo was adamant that “Korea should also allow ICOs”, adding that appropriate regulations would work especially should the crypto industry self-regulate and introduce safety standards that can protect against fraud and money laundering.

However, the government is still reluctant to alleviate its tough stance on the funding method. Chief of the Financial Innovation Commission (FIC) for the Financial Service Commission (FSC), Son Hyun-do, said that ICOs were difficult to permit due to “social-pathological phenomena and the possibility of price manipulation”.

Others such as policy adviser to the Justice Department, Lee Jong Keun, said last month at a parliamentary debate, “We must keep strict institutional regulations consistent with the dangers of cryptography.”


Nevertheless, there are other members of the FSC who have taken a similar stance to Byung-Doo and urged the government to get legislation and regulation bills passed quickly.

Byung-Doo made the case that the ICO ban was dampening South Korea’s ability to compete on the global blockchain stage effectively.

With regards to the nation’s presently booming blockchain industry, he said: “Blockchain-related industries were at the top of the world in terms of competitiveness, but the competitiveness in ICOs has dropped sharply. Now, 75% of projects in the industry belong to the United States only, which is the world’s top competitor.”

Byung-Doo also referenced two of the largest ICO funding rounds in recent memory, presenting them as economically beneficial, saying, “We can see that the flow of investment is clearly changing compared to ICO and angel fundraising. The ICO [method] has raised USD 1.7 billion for Telegram and USD 4 billion for Block.One, it is getting bigger and bigger.”

As ICOs continue to be a global trend, the lawmaker does not wish to see South Korea fall behind, which could happen should prohibition of token sales continue.

A matter of time?

South Korea’s National Assembly has been host to several discussions surrounding blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs. The growing sense of urgency is likely derived from its consistent push to adopt blockchain technologies.

In recent months, South Korea has seen the establishment of the Blockchain Law Society, an entity that aims to advance legal and regulatory proceedings with the intention of also studying the technology and “promote interdisciplinary collaborations between diverse areas”.

Other facets that support the technology at all levels in the nation have been emerging this year. This included tax breaks for blockchain startups, education efforts, gigantic governmental funding for innovative technologies and enterprises and significant backing from the Ministry of Science and ICT.

Most recently, it became clear that blockchain was to grow in South Korea with institutional investors and domestic companies entering the industry. With big money in play and many other plates spinning such as the Jeju Island proposal, Byung-Doo’s stance is generously backed by positive evidence.


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