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Constitutional Court to Rule on Legality of South Korean Crypto Ban

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read

South Korea’s Constitutional Court is set to pass judgment on the legality of measures taken by the country’s government during its partial crypto crackdown of late 2017 to 2018.

Source: iStock/Im Yeongsik

Seoul intervened with a series of emergency measures during the late 2017 bull run, which saw a massive spate of South Korean individual investors of all ages invest millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies.

However, a lawyer representing a group of activists has challenged the legal basis of the government’s moves, which the lawyer claims amounted to property rights violations and human rights infringements.

The lawyer, who cannot be named by the South Korean media for legal reasons, has now won the right to have his case heard in front of the constitutional court. Per news outlet the Law Times, the case has been slated for February 16.

A passage in the legal documents submitted to the court by the lawyer in question reads,

“Unlike general commodities that can be traded freely under existing government regulations, cryptocurrencies have instead been treated as trading commodities, thus violating rights enshrined into law.”

The case against the government goes on to claim that the measures had no constitutional basis for its measures, implemented in December 2017 and January 2018. Seoul said at the time that its “emergency measures” – all of which are still in force – were implemented to deflate an “overheated market.”

At one point, the government had seemed on the verge of a full-blooded China-style crypto ban, with top-ranking politicians talking up proposals to close down domestic exchanges.

Some of the measures brought in over the afore-mentioned time period include the following:

  • Restrictions on anonymous trading
  • Real-name banking guidelines for crypto exchange accounts linked to South Korean banks
  • Age restrictions on crypto trading at domestic exchanges
  • Restrictions on cryptocurrency-related equity and investments
  • A complete and unilateral ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs)

Learn more:
South Korea Might Send Cryptocurrency Exchange AML Offenders to Jail
S Korean Crypto Stance Under Pressure