Today’s “Planet Earth Report” –The Bitcoin Mystery That’s Rocking South Korea



Days after South Korea’s chief proponent of regulating cryptocurrency, Jung Ki-joon, was found mysteriously dead in his home, South Korea apparently has decided not to crack down further on trading in bitcoin and other cybercurrencies. On Tuesday, Choe Heung-ski, chief of South Korea’s Finance Supervisory Service, told reporters that the government would support cryptocurrency trading rather than heavily regulating it or banning it completely.

The value of bitcoin nearly doubled from the year’s low in response, rising to around $11,000 for one BTC reports today's Daily Beast. The loosening of South Korea’s grip on regulations is good news for those speculating on cryptocurrency, but some are wondering if there could be any causal relationship, even an indirect one, to the death of Jung.


Jung Ki-joon was in charge of economic issues at the Office for Government Policy Coordination and is credited with tightening South Korea’s regulation of cryptocurrency trading. South Korea’s semi-official state news agency, Yonhap News, reported that Jung, 52, was found dead in his home on Sunday this week.

According to local media reports, Jung was working on legislation that would diminish criminal activity connected to cryptocurrency and also dampen widespread speculation. Last month, at a government briefing, Jung insisted that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin were not a form of legal tender. He warned that the government planned to “strongly respond to excessive cryptocurrency speculation and illegal activity.”

Yonhap reported that Jung had been working long hours and was under great pressure. The police are investigating the exact cause of death. Perhaps he was aware that his work was about to be essentially scuttled by the South Korean government, aggravating his stress. For now, no one knows the answer.

South Korea, which is the third largest market for cryptocurrency, has been sending mixed signals about how it would handle its booming bitcoin business since last year, shaking up the markets in the process.

In late 2017, it began cracking down on bitcoin traders and it appeared poised to ban all trading. It did block initial coin offerings and stopped allowing anonymous cryptocurrency accounts. Early this year, South Korean officials hinted that a complete ban on cryptocurrency trading was being planned, but met with massive opposition, especially from students.

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