South Korea’s Next President Vows to Reverse Crypto Crackdown and Deregulate Sector


The cryptocurrency community just got a friend in very high places in South Korea.

Yoon Suk-yeol, the former prosecutor general of South Korea who recently pledged to deregulate crypto assets, secured a narrow victory on Thursday  in the country’s presidential election.

Yoon, the leader of the opposition conservative People’ Power Party, will see out a single five-year term as Korea’s president after assuming office on May 10. He defeated Lee Jae-myung of the progressive Democratic party.

‘Negative Regulation System’

In January, the president-elect promised to deregulate the digital asset sector if he was elected president.

“To realize the unlimited potential of the virtual asset market, we must overhaul regulations that are far from reality and unreasonable,” Yoon said. “We must shift to a negative regulation system to ensure at least the virtual asset market has no worries.”

Yoon wants to use the government to foster local cryptocurrency unicorns and promised to increase the taxable threshold on crypto assets from 2.5M KRW ($2,022) to 50M KRW ($40,450). Yoon also launched an NFT drop earlier this week, while his opponent airdropped NFTs to campaign donors in February. 

Sweeping Clampdown

The election result came at the same time President Biden signed an executive order laying out a comprehensive plan for overseeing the cryptocurrency market. Leaders in the sector welcomed the administration’s recognition of blockchain technology’s potential. 

South Korea’s sitting president, Moon Jae-in, oversaw a sweeping clampdown on the virtual asset sector late last year, with more than half of Korean exchanges shutting down after failing to secure licensing from local regulatory agencies.

Yoon is also expected to hasten the deregulation of Korea’s broader capital markets. Investors responded to the election result favorably, with the Korea Stock Exchange Index KOSPI rising  2% on Thursday — its largest single-day rally in three months.

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