The governor of Jeju, South Korea has asked the country’s central government to allow him to convert the island into a blockchain technology hub.
“Blockchain is an opportunity for (South) Korea to take the lead in global internet platform development,” says Won Hee-ryong, governor or Jeju.
Won’s statement came after a meeting he held with central and provincial government officials and private experts to discuss making the island a centre for blockchain. The country’s Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Kim Don-yeon was also present.
“Blockchain can cut costs, provide stable transactions and essentially has the potential to become a game changer that could alter the ecosystem of the internet platform industry,” Won added.
“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].”
Permission to launch ICOs
In his proposal to the country’s top policymakers and experts, Won says blockchain startups would be allowed to launch initial coin offerings (ICOs) to raise funds for the blockchain firms through the distribution of virtual currency.
“Entrepreneurs looking to innovate should be allowed to raise funds through cryptocurrency,” he said.
Currently, the South Korean government considers ICOs to be a “fund-raising activity without permission”.
A Jeju provincial government official says that “we are currently in the process of a reshuffle to create a department dedicated to developing the blockchain industry on the island. Things will become more materialised by the end of this month”.
Firms around the world have already expressed interest in Jeju and, according to local press reports, a few leading blockchain companies are holding talks with the island’s officials over how they can collaborate. Icon, a South Korean blockchain startup that ranks 31 on CoinMartCap’s listing, is among those.