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South Korea’s Jeju Island seeks to become blockchain hub

The South Korean island of Jeju is seeking to become a hub for the blockchain industry, according to Korea Joongang Daily.

During a meeting last week, Governor Won Hee-ryong requested the central government to designate the island a special zone for blockchain and cryptocurrency. The meeting was attended by top government officials including Kim Dong-yeon, Korea’s finance minister and deputy prime minister for the economy.

Hee-ryong also proposed to set up a task force in collaboration with the central government, the provincial government of Jeju Island and private experts to explore the ways in which the island can become a hub for the domestic blockchain industry.

“For Korea to become a leader rather than a consumer of this new global industry, we need to quickly allow [the operation of] blockchain and cryptocurrency [firms],” Won said.

In addition, Hee-ryong is seeking to make the island ICO-friendly, by allowing blockchain startups to conduct initial coin offerings (ICOs). Korean startups have to currently look at different jurisdictions for their ICOs after the government declared them as “fundraising activity without permission” last year, essentially making them illegal.

“If ICOs were allowed in the country, it would prevent the outflow of capital from Korea,” said an industry insider. “Korea has so many good projects which, unfortunately, all decide to do their coin offering elsewhere due to the government’s stance.”

Blockchain companies are welcoming the idea and are reportedly in talks with the government of Jeju Island on how they could cooperate.

“We are currently in the process of a reshuffle to create a department dedicated to developing the blockchain industry on the island,” explained an official from the Jeju provincial government. “Things will become more materialized by the end of this month.”

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