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South Korean Elections Offer a Glimmer of Hope for ICO Legalization

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read

A South Korean politician who ran with a pro-blockchain and cryptocurrency manifesto has won the race to become mayor of Jeju Island. The island is a semi-autonomous province, subject to its own legal system, meaning many mainland laws do not apply to it.

Won Hee-ryong. Source: Wikipedia

Won Hee-ryong told voters ahead of the country’s local elections on June 13 that he was prepared to support Jeju-based companies looking to issue initial coin offerings (ICOs), despite the central government’s ban – using Jeju’s special legal status if necessary. The central government is holding firm on its ICO stance, despite pressure from the National Assembly and pro-crypto MPs.

Kim Su-ho, a cryptocurrency investor and Jeju resident, told, “If Mr Won comes good on his promises, this could be great news. I think he envisages blockchain startups coming from Seoul to Jeju – rather than Singapore – to take advantage of our special legal status. If he can pull that off, that could be very exciting indeed.”

Won ran as an independent candidate, winning 51.7% of the vote on the island province. He has also pledged to create a “blockchain zone” on the island, as well as a digital fiat called the Jeju Coin and has criticized the government’s cryptocurrency policy for “forcing many South Korean companies and entrepreneurs to go overseas to attract investment.”

Won also pledged to create a cryptocurrency “sandbox testbed” at the high-tech Jeju Science Park.

In Seoul, meanwhile, incumbent mayor Park Won-soon was re-elected for a third term. As previously reported, Park has also pledged to create a digital fiat for use in the capital.