Lee Jae-myung, the ruling Democratic Party’s candidate for the upcoming presidential election in South Korea, may include in his election pledges setting up a government sector dedicated to supervising the virtual asset industry.

Fast facts

  • It is reported that Lee is considering including a plan in his presidential campaign to set up a unit similar to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) for virtual assets. Its aim is to examine unfair acts within the crypto market such as price manipulation, cross trading or hacking, for better investor protection — just as what the FSS does on the stock market.
  • Local media reports interpret the move as part of the Democratic Party’s efforts to win back voters in their 20s and 30s. The 2021 South Korean by-elections held on April 7 showed a great loss of support from people in that age group who were once loyal to the current President Moon Jae-in and the Democratic Party. At the by-election, the conservative People Power candidate Oh Se-hoon became Seoul mayor with 57.5% of votes, while Democratic candidate Park Young-sun gathered 39.2%. Only last year, at the 2020 legislative election, 56.4% of voters in their 20s and 61.1% in their 30s supported the Democratic Party.
  • With investors in their 20s and 30s making up nearly 60% of the total number of crypto investors in Korea’s four major exchanges, winning the support of virtual asset investors is critical for next year’s presidential election.   
  • Lee has also said the pending tax on cryptocurrency gains, set to begin in January 2022, should be postponed by one year. Hong Jun-pyo from the Conservative Party, who is also running for president, also criticized the current government’s tax policy on virtual assets. The South Korean presidential election will take place on March 9, 2022.