Icon’s ICX Rockets 70% as Crypto-Friendly Candidate Wins South Korean Presidential Election

The South Korean project recorded an unusual bounce on Thursday after Yoon Suk-yeol was elected president.

AccessTimeIconMar 10, 2022 at 10:51 a.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 5:29 p.m. UTC
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Tokens of prominent South Korean project Icon surged as much as 70% in the past 24 hours after the election of Yoon Suk-yeol as the country's president.

The project's ICX token jumped from a low of $0.61 on Wednesday to over $1.04 on Thursday morning before retracing some of the gain. The price is still some 92% below the 2018 peak of $13.

Price charts suggest the token may drop to a support level at $0.70 if current buying pressure is not sustained.

ICX surged to over $1 on Thursday morning. (TradingView)
ICX surged to over $1 on Thursday morning. (TradingView)

ICX is a prominent project whose protocol allows separate blockchains to exchange data with each other. It was one of the top performers in the initial coin offering frenzy of 2017 before losing favor among investors in the years afterward.

South Korean exchange UpBit continues to see tens of millions worth of ICX traded daily, data show. Wednesday, however, saw over $410 million in volume on the ICX/Korean won trade pair. UpBit posted trading volumes of over $4 billion in total, more than twice the $1.8 billion traded on Sunday.

Other projects with Korean ties saw similar price jumps. Singapore-based Terra, started life in South Korea, saw prices of its LUNA tokens cross an all-time high of $103 in early Asian hours.

Gains in LUNA were also driven by strong demand for sister token terraUSD (UST), an algorithmic stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar, as reported.

Yoon was a former top prosecutor who promised to deregulate the crypto industry. Both he and his opponent, Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Liberal Party, announced crypto-friendly measures to win over younger voters, as reported.

Yoon has promised to raise the proposed threshold for the 20% capital-gains tax on cryptocurrency profits to KRW 52.4 million (US$42,450). This is higher than the current KRW 2.5 million threshold due to start in 2023. He also promised to "take legal measures to confiscate crypto profits gained through illegitimate means and return them to the victims.”

The current government under President Moon Jae-in has cracked down on crypto in South Korea, which became one of the biggest markets for the asset class with a young, tech-friendly population. Regulatory restrictions saw some 70 Korean exchanges close last year, leaving only a handful operating as of Thursday.

Analysts said similar price volatility should be expected as countries warm up to the industry.

"This week has been, what many consider, a positive turning point for the crypto and digital assets industry," said James Wo, founder of crypto fund DFG, in a Telegram message. "With [two] global leaders such as the U.S. and South Korea signaling the intent to work on analyzing and educating themselves to embrace a technological advancement that has grown to have close to $2 trillion in market cap with slim to none guardrails, the market is reacting with high expectations."

"We could see important upside volatility as major jurisdictions adopt similar positions," Wo said.

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Shaurya Malwa

Shaurya is the Deputy Managing Editor for the Data & Tokens team, focusing on decentralized finance, markets, on-chain data, and governance across all major and minor blockchains.


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