South Korean Presidential Candidates Pledge Lower Taxes for Crypto Traders, End to ICO Ban

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South Korea’s crypto community is off to an excellent start in the new year. They will have plenty to be proud of after March’s presidential election.

reported yesterday that the leading candidates are trying to outdo each other with their pro-crypto policies to win younger voters. Today, the two candidates spoke almost simultaneously at separate events in Seoul and indicated that they would lift the country’s controversial initial coin offering ( ICO ) ban, Yonhap reported.

These promises are likely to be a hit with the country’s business community. Since 2018, there has been a blanket ban on domestic token launches. They have had to launch crypto ventures from overseas subsidiaries. Hyundai and the internet giant Kakao both launched tokens in Europe, Singapore and other countries. Digital securities proponents were also warned that their offerings would not be permitted if they were launched on South Korean soil.

Individual retail traders might have more to celebrate. reported that the government’s current crypto tax policies were being criticized by critics in 2020. Seoul had just passed a crypto tax law, which would have required traders who earn more than USD 2,100 per year to pay flat-rate 20% capital gains taxes on their income. This threshold has been criticized by some, especially since stock market traders who trade KOSPI shares have a threshold of around USD 42,000.

However, Yoon Suk-yeol (People’s Power Party) was instrumental in obtaining a last-minute delay of one year to the tax law at the National Assembly. This indicated that they wanted to see parity in stock trading and crypto investments.

Yonhap described crypto as a “hot subject” and an attempt “catch” voters who are in their 20s or 30s. They are “considered to be a key variable in this presidential election.”
Lee spoke at the headquarters Dunamu. He is the operator of the market-leading Upbit crypto currency exchange. He pledged to “institutionalize cryptoasset industries” if he wins March’s poll.

He took aim at President Moon Jae In’s regime and its strict stance on crypto.

“Covering your eyes does not make the existing [crypto] markets disappear. We must embrace it if we are unable to avoid it.”

Lee said he would “review the ICO ban”, but he stated that certain “safeguards for investors and market disturbances” would need to be in place. Lee indicated that he would be open to allowing security tokens to be issued, calling them an investment tool for small- and medium-sized venture firms.

Lee stated that he would make decisive decisions in the sector and added:

“There will not be a ‘later” attached to the promises that I make.”

Yoon, who trailed Lee by less than 2% according to the latest opinion polls spoke out in favor of creating a “secure investing” environment for “investors” in virtual assets.

He said:

“Cryptocurrency is an essential part of a portfolio that can be used to build national wealth. Particularly young South Koreans are adapting faster to investing in […] digital resources than any other country. I will create an environment that encourages young people to invest with confidence.

He also stated that if elected, he would establish a “Digital Asset Framework Act”, and a “Digital Industry Promotion Agency” that would be responsible for promoting the crypto industry as well as forming policy to regulate coins and non-fungible tokens ( NFs).

Yoon also talked about his willingness to reverse the ICO ban in some way, and about allowing firms initial exchange offerings (IEOs) to be launched with “safeguards” in place.

Although ICOs are well-established in many parts of the globe, the fight against the ban by the crypto community has a strong symbolic resonance in the country. The ban was implemented in 2017. Despite years of pressure from the community, the government has refused to change its policy.

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