12 June, 2018
Park Won-Soon, the mayor of Seoul, South Korea, announced plans to expand blockchain development in the city in his bid for re-election this month. He has shown increasing interest in blockchain technology, and in March, he detailed a new cryptocurrency for the capital—and has stated that he hopes to reassess legal and administrative barriers towards crypto-related ventures and tech. Park has held office since 2011 and is seeking a third term.
Turning Seoul into a blockchain tech hub
In May, Park proposed turning the Mapo district into a fintech and blockchain hub, as well as using the Mapo Fintech Lab complex for the development of blockchain-related technology. His plan detailed six new complexes dedicated to technological innovation in Seoul, with hopes of sparking blockchain startups in the capital. In addition, Park expressed a desire to use blockchain in the city’s administrative functions, such as infrastructure management, utilities, and public transit. Blockchain has enjoyed a recent global popularity at the administrative level due to its transparency and immutability of data, giving administrations an effective way to manage funds while encouraging accountability.
The capital’s own cryptocurrency
Park stated in March that he was interested in developing a cryptocurrency for Seoul dubbed the “S-Coin.” On top of the application of blockchain tech for bureaucratic functions and various public institutions, he hopes the S-Coin could be used by citizens on welfare or for student financial assistance. Because of Korea’s aggressive regulation of cryptocurrency, however, Park has expressed the need to dial back and reform current laws and “prepare institutional and legal support such as bylaws” to pave the way for crypto and blockchain technologies in the capital.
Moving forward from regulation
The South Korean government was quick to adopt laws regulating the trade of cryptocurrencies. Anonymous trading is prohibited, requiring users to use the same name on their bank account when using an exchange. They are also discussing dialing back on legislation that outright banned ICOs. Many South Koreans have given pushback to these new regulations, and Park Won-Soon hopes to fulfill the potential of blockchain by reforming these reactionary laws.