Jeju Special Self-governing Province Governor Won Hee-ryong is set to take steps to live up to his campaign pledges to make Jeju a blockchain hub city, issue a cryptocurrency, dubbed “Jeju Coin,” and use the raised funds for the residents of the island. Won announced on August 3 his plans to meet people from the domestic blockchain industry and the central government.
On his campaign trail, Won pledged to introduce a “Jeju-style regulatory sandbox,” set up a “Jeju Fourth Industrial Revolution Fund” worth 200 billion won (US$177.3 million), create a blackchain hub city, issue the cryptocurrency “Jeju Coin,” establish a “smart start-up village,” and launch an ICT expert training center.
In particular, Won’s promises to create a blockchain hub city and issue a cryptocurrency contradict the central government’s policy on virtual currencies. To solve such problems, Won has decided to directly persuade the central government and the Presidential Office. He is also planning to actively communicate with the blockchain industry.
As his first move, Won attended the “Huobi Carnival,” a global blockchain conference organized by Huobi Korea on August 3. Huobi Korea is the Korea operation of Huobi Global, one of the world’s largest virtual currency trading exchanges.
At the conference, Won said, “South Korea is an internet powerhouse but it has never been a leader in software. Blockchain technology offers the first and the last opportunity for Korea to become a power in the internet platform sector. We need to seize the opportunity when it comes our way. If there are risks or side effects, they need to be managed, not to be avoided.”
His remarks seem to be aimed at the central government, which is just focusing on the side effects of cryptocurrencies, such as cryptocurrency speculation and money laundering, without bothering to come up with regulatory laws or systems. He added, “Jeju Island is a free international city defined by a special law so it can become a blockchain hub city like Switzerland’s Zug and Malta and Singapore.”
Won’s aggressive move and the characteristics of Jeju as a special self-governing province are fueling expectations among the domestic cryptocurrency industry that initial coin offerings (ICOs), which have been banned by the central government, could be allowed in Jeju Island. Industry watchers hope that Jeju Island becomes a ICO special zone in Korea and create wealth through ICOs just as Malta and Singapore have already been doing.
In addition, Won said, “We will activate cryptocurrency exchanges on the island and guarantee business activities of cryptocurrency and blockchain companies. By analyzing data created by these activities, we will make sensible regulations and standards, making Jeju Isalnd a rule maker of the cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses.”
On the same day, Won met officials of Huobi Korea, which organized the conference, and Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver, knowns as a "Bitcoin Jesus,” who visited South Korea as a guest speaker of the conference. He sought advice from them on turning Jeju Island into a blockchain hub city. Won will also invite Huobi Korea officials and Roger Ver to Jeju Island soon again to discuss more detailed plans for cooperation.
Won is also planning to persuade the central government. He will attend a joint meeting of economic ministers and governors to be held in Sejong City on Aug. 8 to officially present a plan to make the island a blockchain hub city. The meeting will be attended by 14 ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon, and top officials of the ruling Democratic Party.