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‘Let’s Create a Crypto Ministry,’ Industry Urges South Korean President-Elect

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: Adobe/slawavorster


A summit of South Korean lawmakers, industry chiefs, and leading academics has called for the country’s President-Elect Yoon Suk-yeol to create a minister – or a ministry-level agency – for the crypto sector.

Per Seoul Finance, the calls were made at the “Digital Asset Promise Implementation and Digital New Economy Ecosystem Innovation Seminar,” an event that was hosted by the crypto-keen MP Cho Myung-hee of the People’s Power Party and the Korea Digital Innovation Solidarity – a collective comprising leading domestic blockchain and crypto-related firms.

Yoon will be sworn into office early next month and has previously pledged to create a government-run Digital Industry Promotion Agency, which he says will be charged with regulating and promoting the nation’s crypto sector.

But attendees at the summit were quoted as calling for Yoon to go a step further and create a ministry – or a ministerial-level organization or dedicated committee – that would govern the sector. The parties argued that doing so would ensure the healthy growth of the digital economy.

Kim Hyung-joong, a Professor at the Graduate School of Information Security at the elite Korea University, was quoted as warning that Yoon’s proposed Digital Industry Promotion Agency might end up becoming an agency that simply operates under another, existing ministry. It could also be forced to rely on this ministry for its funding.

Kim claimed that creating a “Digital Assets Committee” – in the mold of the Fair Trade Commission (the national trade watchdog) and the Financial Services Commission (FSC, the top financial regulator) would grant the new agency both clout and independence. Both commissions are funded directly by the central government, and neither answers directly to a minister.

As such, their chairpersons wield the same sort of power as ministers, can be selected by the ruling President and their appointments must be approved by parliament.

Yoon’s idea for an agency centers around his belief that cryptoassets and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) need tighter regulation and more growth stimulation. The agency he has suggested would look to pool the resources of several ministries and agencies, namely: the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, which would police tax, the FSC, which would be in charge of supervision, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Information and Communication (IT development), as well as other bodies such as the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Energy.

But the attendees claimed that it would be “difficult to coordinate between ministries” in the aforementioned cross-ministry model proposed by Yoon – and that only a fully independent body would be able to successfully police the sector.

Also speaking at the event were legal experts, who claimed that legislative amendments were also needed under the Yoon administration, as it was currently unclear as to which kinds of digital assets were subject to regulation. Previously, MPs have criticized the government for excluding NFTs from crypto regulation, despite the fact that these tokens are traded on blockchain protocols and sold on secondary markets.

An economist, meanwhile, urged Yoon to create the “new infrastructure required for payment and settlement” using “new digital assets such as NFTs and stablecoins.”
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