A South Korean cryptocurrency regulator in charge of “devising measures against cryptocurrency speculation” was found dead in his home from an apparent heart attack on Monday, semiofficial government news agency Yonhap News reports. A government spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal they weren’t “sure about the cause of death.”
South Korean police are investigating the death of Jung Ki-joon, 52, who led economic policy at the Office for Government Policy Coordination. His job involved developing rules for regulating cryptocurrency in a largely unregulated, fast-growing market the South Korean government seeks to manage.
Ki-joon was in charge of organizing weekly meetings, which began in November of last year, on regulating cryptocurrency transactions. Hong Nam-ki, the minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, headed up the meetings.
Yonhap News reports his colleagues said he had been “under heavy stress” since taking the job late last year.
South Korea cryptocurrency regulator found dead at homehttps://t.co/cih96pqLL8
— Frank Chaparro (@fintechfrank) February 20, 2018
South Korean Crypto Surges
South Korea is a hot spot for trading Bitcoin. According to the government, the country’s 30 cryptocurrency exchanges saw 87.5 times more income in 2017 than the previous year, Yonhap News reports. The prices of Bitcoin have traded higher in South Korea than in other markets, at times by more than 50 percent.
The South Korean won, its currency, is the fourth most popular currency for exchanging Bitcoin after the U.S. dollar, Japanese yen and the euro. Roughly 5 percent of cryptocurrency transactions in 2017 were exchanged for won.
Ki-joon said in a briefing last month that cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, weren’t a legal currency and the government “would strongly respond to excessive cryptocurrency speculation and illegal activity,” according to WSJ.
How will South Korea Regulate?
South Korea continues to grapple with how to regulate the rapidly growing cryptocurrency market. The country’s finance minister, Kim Dong-yeon, said in late January that “there is no intention to ban or suppress cryptocurrency.”
When the country legalized cryptocurrency exchanges, they also issued a ban on anonymous exchanges, undermining the reason people use the currency to protect their privacy.
South Korea is also considering a Bitcoin licensing scheme for exchanges, with Business Korea quoting a government official saying: “We are positively considering the adoption of an exchange approval system as the additional regulation on cryptocurrencies.”
The country appears to be, at the very least, on the path to a more robust regulation system.
What do you think of South Korea’s place in the Bitcoin market? Let us know in the comments below!
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