Things are looking up for cryptocurrency and blockchain in South Korea. The Bank of Korea is in the early stages of studying a possible central bank-issued digital currency, the Korea Customs Service revealed plans in late May to combat smuggling through blockchain technology, and the government also has plans to cultivate new blockchain businesses at a startup hub.
In September 2017, South Korea's Financial Services Commission announced a ban on ICOs within the nation's borders over concerns of fraud. However, financial authorities began to challenge the ban in March of this year, speaking with representatives from the National Tax Service and the Ministry of Justice about developing a regulatory framework that would allow ICOs to operate in the country.
Just last month, 11 South Korean legislators introduced a bill that would legalize government-regulated ICOs, which was an early sign of pushback on the nationwide ban. It appears the ban has yet to be reversed, but with the appointment of Yoon Suk-heun as South Korea's top financial regulator – who expressly stated that he would consider relaxing regulations surrounding cryptocurrency – hope for South Korea's crypto/blockchain industry is not lost.
The most recent indication that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology may thrive in South Korea came with the announcement of a possible blockchain center named "Crypto Beach."
On June 14, local news outlet Edaily reported that Oh Jung-geun, chair of the Korea ICT Financial Convergence Association, announced the committee's plan to build a blockchain campus similar to Crypto Valley in Switzerland. The committee has chosen a location in the Haeundae District in Busan. It would be in the eastern part of the city, which is a popular beachfront tourist attraction.
Talking about the need for such a place, Oh stated that South Korea needs "a place to concentrate on the cryptographic industry." He also expressed his concern over the fact that many blockchain companies were forced to raise funds overseas because of Korea's ban on ICOs, as well as the government's strict regulations of cryptocurrency based on its collective lack of knowledge of the technology.
Precisely which projects will be explored at Crypto Beach remains to be seen, but the construction of such a place will likely attract cryptocurrency and blockchain companies to South Korea, perhaps encouraging government officials to learn about the technology and the benefits it can bring to the country.
Translations by Google.