On February 18, 2018, Jung Ki-joon, the head of economic policy at the South Korean Office for Government Policy Coordination, was found dead at his home. Jung was 52.
It is believed that Jung died of a heart attack, but South Korean police are waiting for a report from the coroner's office on the official cause of death. "He passed away while he was sleeping and [his] heart [had] already stopped beating when he was found dead," said a government spokesperson. Colleagues suggested that job-related stress might have factored into the unexpected event.
According to Yonhap, Jung was in charge of "coordinating the opinions of different ministries and offices to prepare for the weekly meetings of Hong and relevant vice ministers." Hong Nam-ki is the minister for the Office of Government Policy Coordination.
Last month, there were conflicting reports about a potential ban on cryptocurrency trading in South Korea – perhaps something that weighed on Jung's mind. In a petition to the South Korean Blue House, one signatory wrote, "Tax [cryptocurrency] as much as you want but don't shut it down. My life depends on it." It's understandable how that sort of desperate rhetoric would put added pressure on South Korean officials, who are still settling on regulation.
For much of 2017, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ether traded at a premium on South Korean exchanges, worrying politicians like Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon. Lee had attempted to prevent minors from trading virtual currency, among other measures.
Attempts to stifle crypto activity have been met with fierce resistance. South Korean cryptocurrency traders appear ravenous, even if that means transacting on questionable platforms.
In January, eight South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges were fined by the Korea Communications Commission for failures to safeguard users' personal information, and two major cryptocurrency exchanges became the subjects of a tax investigation.
ETHNews previously reported on South Korea's consideration of a capital gains tax on cryptocurrency.