South Korean Financial Overseer Who Banned ICOs Abruptly Quits

During his tenure Chairman Choi Jong-ku took a hard line against ICOs but enacted some favorable policies towards blockchain businesses.

AccessTimeIconJul 23, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:13 a.m. UTC

The head of South Korea's Financial Services Commission (FSC) abruptly resigned last week, according to a July 18 report from The Korea Times.

Former Chairman Choi Jong-ku reportedly left his office one day in advance of his second anniversary, amid a period of governmental reorganization.

He told reporters he resigned "before the expected reshuffle" to "widen the scope" of President Moon Jae-in's search for new cabinet members. Choi’s predecessors have typically resigned at the two-year mark under similar circumstances.

The top candidates to replace Choi as chairman include Eun Sung-soo, who took over as CEO for Korea’s Export-Import Bank when Choi abdicated the post in 2017. Yoon Jong-won, former Blue House secretary in Korea’s executive branch, and Kim Yong-beom, former FSC vice chairman, among others, are also being considered.

During his tenure, Choi navigated conflicting cryptocurrency proposals issued by various financial regulators, but came down hard against the ICO boom. In March 2018, he called the speculative investments "irrational," when working with Chinese and Japanese financial authorities to ban the investment vehicle.

He added:

“[A] fever of speculative investment in cryptocurrencies is ongoing … however, cryptocurrencies are unable to play a role as a means of payment.”

Despite this hard line approach to ICOs and cryptocurrency, Choi enacted what is seen by some as favorable legislation towards small and medium sized blockchain businesses. When the Ministry of Justice was considering shutting down all domestic crypto exchanges, Choi instead proposed strict KYC requirements to allow them to continue operating.

Choi also granted financial technology and blockchain firms access to customer data, and enabled consumers to transact over mobile apps.

His term was due to end in July 2020.

Photo of Choi Jong-ku Via FSC

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