52-year-old Jung Ki-joon led the regulatory effort to implement tighter controls on cryptocurrency trading. According to a S. Korean government spokesperson cited in The Wall Street Magazine, he was found dead at home on Sunday.
Ki-joon, who was the head of economic policy for the Office for Government Policy Coordination, had taken a main role in coordinating cryptocurrency legislation as of year-end 2017. According to colleagues cited in local report, the focus of the effort was on combatting speculation and illegal activity in cryptocurrency trading, the major attention of which was taking a notable toll on him.
At this early phase, there appear to be conflicting reports on the cause of death. Local authorities have launched an investigation into his death, though news agencies there are reporting that Jung Ki-joon probably had a heart attack. In the meantime, the spokesperson is cited as saying:
“He died from some unknown cause. He passed away while he was sleeping and [his] heart [had] already stopped beating when he was found dead.”
Last month, Jung Ki-joon said during a briefing that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies weren’t deemed legal currency, promising that the government would “strongly respond to excessive cryptocurrency speculation and illegal activity.”
Government officials around the world have been under increased pressure to craft a framework for the loosely regulated cryptocurrency market amid growing incidents of money laundering and theft.
Key Crypto Market
South Korea, a key market for cryptocurrency trading where as much as 1/5 of trading occurs, has in many ways been at the forefront of the regulatory charge. The government has reacted to the fact that the South Korean won is one of the leading physical currencies for bitcoin trading, lagging only the dollar, yen and euro.
Falls in the bitcoin price last month coincided with remarks out of South Korean officials that they were tightening their grasp on cryptocurrency trading. When officials in last few days purified that they wouldn’t integrate a trading prohibition, the markets breathed a sigh of facilitation.
Actually, S. Korea was counted among the catalysts for the bull run in the BTC price in 2017, which had the country’s Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon concerned, as evidenced by his warning that the demand for cryptos may “lead to some serious distorted or pathological phenomenon, if left unaddressed,” pointing to turning children into offenders.
In the meantime, though speculation recently swirled that the government would close cryptocurrency exchanges, the South Korean financial regulator the Financial Supervisory Service just showed it would support cryptocurrency trading with a major attention on know-your-customer (KYC) transparency.