|Ruling Democratic Party of Korea presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung speaks during a conference on virtual assets at the National Assembly in Seoul in this November 2021 file photo. Korea Times photo by Oh Dae-geun|
By Park Jae-hyuk
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is set to become the world's first political party to issue non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for fundraising in a presidential election, according to DPK presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung's campaign committee, Sunday.
NFTs, the latest cryptocurrency phenomenon to gain widespread attention, transform collectibles including digital works of art into unique and verifiable assets that can be traded.
Starting this month, the DPK will send non-interchangeable digital images featuring Lee's photos and policies to his supporters who donate their money to his election campaign. The party explained that its NFTs will serve as a kind of bond, so that their holders can exchange the digital assets with other individuals.
The election campaign committee's latest fundraising plan followed DPK lawmaker Lee Kwang-jae's announcement on Thursday that he will start accepting cryptocurrency donations sometime in mid-January and issue receipts for donations in the form of NFTs.
"Our presidential candidate is also preparing for fundraising using NFTs," the lawmaker said in a press conference at the National Assembly that day.
The DPK emphasized that the National Election Commission (NEC) confirmed last month that fundraising using NFTs does not violate the Political Funds Act or the Public Official Election Act.
"Over the past eight months, we have discussed this matter with the NEC and other government institutions," Rep. Lee said. "The donations will be managed in compliance with the Public Official Election Act and the Guidelines on Management of Political Funds."
Former Minister of SMEs and Startups Park Young-sun, who is in charge of digitalization policies at the DPK's election campaign committee, also gave momentum to the party's virtual asset-friendly policies by issuing an NFT associated with her Facebook message written in 2018, in which she opposed the shutdown of cryptocurrency exchanges.
"My first NFT was sold Jan. 1 to an anonymous buyer for 2,000 Klay, which is about 3 million won ($2,500)," she wrote on Facebook, Sunday.
Park issued another NFT with a caricature of herself and a New Year's message. The former minister will also meet representatives from gaming companies next week, along with Rep. Lee, to discuss measures to boost the nation's game industry by using NFTs.
As part of efforts to win the hearts of young voters in their 20s and 30s, the DPK's presidential candidate has remained supportive of the game industry's attempts to use NFTs. During an interview with a gaming YouTuber last month, he said that Korea should lead the global trend of integrating games with virtual assets and NFTs.
"If we deny what actually exists, it will be similar to an isolationist foreign policy," he said.