|Rep. Hong Eui-rak of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea speaks during a forum on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology at the National Assembly in Seoul, Wednesday. He said a bill aimed at allowing the launch of new cryptocurrencies here is in the making. / Yonhap|
By Park Si-soo
A group of lawmakers is moving to legalize the launch of new cryptocurrencies in South Korea.
Rep. Hong Eui-rak of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea is leading the move championed by 10 other lawmakers. They are working to have a bill backing the move endorsed this year.
This is the first parliamentary challenge to the government's ban on domestic initial coin offerings (ICO) imposed late last year to curb speculative investment in digital currencies such as bitcoin.
"The bill is aimed at legalizing ICOs under the government's supervision," Hong said during a forum on ICOs and blockchain technology at the National Assembly on Wednesday. He said the bill was based on a joint study by his office and the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).
"The primary goal (of the legislation) is helping remove uncertainties facing blockchain-related businesses," Hong said.
The bill does not seek unlimited ICOs, but ones initiated by public organizations and research centers committed to promoting and developing blockchain technology. Their ICOs will be subject to tight supervision by the Financial Services Commission and the Ministry of Science and ICT, according to the bill.
At the forum, National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun underscored the lawmakers' role in removing political uncertainties facing cryptos and blockchain technology.
"Blockchain and cryptos can be used in various public sectors for good causes," Chung said. "Given their potential, we need to work to help reduce political uncertainties they face."