Officials promise Korea will be a blockchain hub

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Officials promise Korea will be a blockchain hub

Government officials promised to invest in blockchain technology and transform Korea into a blockchain hub during a conference in Seoul on Tuesday.

“It is our utmost priority to create success stories of commercial usage of blockchain technology to help establish Korea as an early market player,” said Min Won-ki, vice minister of Science and ICT, during the 2018 Korea Blockchain Expo held at the Grand Hilton Convention Center in Seodaemun District, western Seoul. “As announced earlier, the government is planning to invest around 40 billion won ($35.2 million) in blockchain technology next year, three times more than this year’s investment.”

Earlier in June, the Ministry of Science and ICT announced ambitious plans to raise the number of blockchain experts from the current 600 to 10,000 by 2022, and companies specializing in blockchain from 30 to 100.

“Many investors from countries like Switzerland and Singapore that have active blockchain industries want to invest in Korea despite the ICO [initial coin offering] ban,” said Woo Tae-hee, head of Korea Blockchain Association’s industry development committee. “That attests to Korea’s underlying potential.”

Government officials also hinted at a possible relaxation of the ban on initial coin offerings in the near future.

“In the past, the government has been very ambivalent in regulating blockchain, with different agencies trying to avoid dealing with the technology by arguing that blockchain is not within their jurisdiction,” said Rep. Lee Hye-hoon of the opposition Bareunmirae Party. An economics expert, Lee has recently been nominated as the new chairwoman of the National Assembly’s Special Committee on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“But recently, the government sent signals that things might change, with members of the ruling Democratic Party pointing out how Koreans are launching ICOs abroad regardless of the domestic ban. The Office for Government Policy Coordination is currently doing a survey of the effects of the ICO ban, and will probably publish the results and the government’s official response on how to move forward with ICOs next month.”

Government officials from Seoul, Busan and Jeju also discussed the blockchain projects in their areas.

“Seoul city is currently planning to launch 14 blockchain-powered services for the public by the next three to four years,” said Kim Tae-kyoon, chief information officer for the Seoul metropolitan government. “They include electronic voting, like in Estonia, as well as paperless document verification of personal records like graduation diplomas and certifications.”

“We are also in the process of constructing the Seoul Global Blockchain Center in Gaepo-dong in Gangnam District due for completion by 2021, as announced earlier by Mayor Park Won-soon. We will invite start-ups, as well as established companies and R&D units of conglomerates, to create a vibrant blockchain hub.”

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